The Nursing/Health Education program provides students with a broad knowledge-base and skill set in nursing, health education, vaccination, midwifery, and disease prevention. This six-month intensive course requires students to complete practical as well as classroom work and provides instruction on over 100 medical topics. Graduates are in high demand by employers because there are so few skilled Afghan female health professionals and a strong cultural preference that Afghan women receive health services from other Afghan women. Some Nurse/Health Educators have enrolled in Kabul University's Medical School and have been exempted from numerous classes because of the quality of training that they received at AIL. To date, 52 women have graduated from this course and are providing urgently needed health care services to thousands of Afghan women who would not otherwise have access to care. Nineteen more women are currently enrolled.
In accordance with traditional customs, families ask traditional birth attendants to help during the delivery. Most of the women who act as traditional birth attendants are illiterate and have never had any formal training. AIL's 4-week traditional birth attendant training course was developed and piloted by AIL doctors and health educators during 2003 in response to the requests of women for this training. Topics covered in the training include danger signs during pregnancy, preparing for a clean delivery, method of delivering a baby, normal deliveries, and child care. Birthing kits are given to the participants. The demand for AIL’s traditional birth attendant training workshop is high and many women have asked to participate in the course. During the evaluation component of previous traditional birth attendant training workshops, participants have expressed great thanks to AIL for this workshop. On behalf of all the participants of one traditional birth attendant workshop, one said:
"We are very much grateful to these Health Educators who came all the way to this camp to give us this important training. In order to make the lessons easy and more understandable, they translated the lesson plans in our own language, which really proved to be much helpful. We learned the right method of delivering a child. Many women in our areas died because of the problems arising during delivery. We were not able to help them since we never knew the right method of delivery. But now we know our mistakes. Through conducting this workshop, you have saved the lives of many women who might have died during the pregnancy or might have lost the life of their child."
To date, 30 women have participated in the 4-week training and other traditional birth attendants have received shorter training sessions on specific topics. The traditional birth attendants are now able to recognize danger signs earlier in a pregnancy and refer the mother to AIL’s health clinics for additional care. Some women have even come to AIL’s clinics to deliver their babies. CHI and AIL hope to offer more trainings to upgrade the skills of even more traditional birth attendants and improve the health and safety of more mothers and babies during birth.