Training midwives for safe childbirths

Berlin / Kabul, 13 February 2018

In 2012, Johanniter started supporting a training programme for midwives in the Afghan province of Balkh to reduce the alarming mother-child mortality rate in the country. In early 2018, the third training cycle started in Takhar Province to train 30 midwives who will be able to ensure safe childbirth in their rural communities in the future.

Becoming a mother is always associated with health risks. But in Afghanistan, the risk of dying during pregnancy and birth is significantly higher. Just a few years ago, according to UNICEF, every two hours an Afghan woman died during pregnancy, because health care did not work in most places. At least until now, because a lot has happened in this area in the last years.

1000 midwives for better mother-child health

The Afghan Ministry of Health launched a programme to improve rural health care. The focus was on pregnant women and newborn babies. The declared goal: 1000 midwives were to be trained to take on health-related tasks. These include early detection of complications during pregnancy, compliance and implementation of hygiene standards, promotion of breastfeeding and support for family planning. Since 2012, we have been supporting this initiative together with the local partner organisation AADA (Assistance and Development of Afghanistan). In 2013, a mother-and-child clinic near Kabul was inaugurated as part of this work.

By the beginning of 2017, a total of 93 midwives had already been trained, all of whom came from remote villages in the northern province of Balkh. Like Masooda, who is employed as a midwife at the Balkh health centre: "Since I have been working here, more patients come to the hospital. I feel more self-confident and empowered by my new skills, for which my colleagues respect me. Also because of the additional tasks that are entrusted to me," reports Masooda proudly. She often works as a midwife in her neighbourhood after work and thus helps her fellow men.

Negina also successfully completed her midwifery training in 2014 and has been working in a health centre ever since. She has already assisted more than 740 mothers during delivery. When asked about her motivation for choosing midwifery training, she replied: "One of my relatives died while giving birth to her child and that was the decisive point for me to apply for midwifery training."

I hope that with my education I can prevent women from my village from dying during childbirth in the future.

Extension of midwifery training to Takhar province

The commitment at national level in recent years has had an impact: while the maternal mortality rate for live births was still 1600 per 100,000 live births in 2002, this rate had fallen to 327 by 2014. With our ongoing midwifery training, we continue to train women from various rural regions. In this way, we are making it possible in more and more regions for pregnancies and births to be less lethal.

International Assistance in Afghanistan
Health workers in Afghanistan

International Assistance in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, we support IDPs and refugees in the health sector and promote adequate access to drinking water and sanitation. By training midwives, we are helping to reduce maternal morality.

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