Midwives make all the difference for Afghan moms

To help more women and babies survive pregnancy and birth in Afghanistan, where infant and maternal death rates are high, World Vision has helped empower doctors and midwives to provide care to women in remote locations.

By Chris Huber, World Vision U.S.
Published August 30, 2013 at 07:15am PDT

Midwives are the difference between life and death for women and newborns in Afghanistan, a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.

For every 1,000 births, about 73 infants die, according to UNICEF. And 460 women die for every 100,000 births.

Better health for Afghan mothers and children

In a concerted effort by many agencies to help more women and babies survive pregnancy and birth, World Vision has helped empower doctors and midwives to provide care to women in hard-to-reach locations.



In 2008, we launched the Better Health for Afghan Mothers and Children project in the country’s northwest, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).



World Vision taught health workers in Herat province how to educate mothers on improved hygiene; help prevent diseases like pneumonia; and prevent and treat diarrhea.

Workers help mothers bond with their newborns and coach the women in exclusive breastfeeding so their babies receive adequate nutrition and grow up strong.



“Breastfeeding a newborn baby could help in decreasing the infant mortality rate by 22 percent,” said Dr. Suraya Dalil, Afghan minister of public health, at a ceremony celebrating International Breastfeeding Week August 4.

She also presented World Vision and other organizations with an award for their efforts to support the country’s push to decrease infant mortality rates.

Sharing knowledge saves mothers and babies



Initially, World Vision staff trained 13 doctors and midwives on the new methods, promoting a baby-friendly atmosphere in hospitals.

They, in turn, imparted the new techniques to another 75 hospital staff throughout Herat province. The new knowledge and skills coupled with additional equipment and supplies mean staff is better able to help children reach life in all its fullness.

The initiative has reached about 450,000 children under 5 and women of reproductive age in the province, according to USAID. 

Medical workers have graduated the program in Herat.

World Vision continues work with governments and communities throughout Afghanistan to construct health facilities, train health workers, teach life skills, and help mothers and children fight malnutrition. Current projects could impact more than 1.8 million people.

Two ways you can help

Pray for protection for mothers and infants in Afghanistan and other countries where neonatal medical services are scarce, and pray for children everywhere who are vulnerable to death from preventable causes.

Make a one-time donation to support maternal health in Afghanistan. Your gift will help provide training for midwives, prenatal and ongoing medical care for mothers and children, improved nutrition, immunizations, and other critical interventions for those in need.

Highlights

  • In Afghanistan, for every 1,000 births, about 73 infants die, and 460 women die for every 100,000 births. 


  • World Vision’s Better Health for Afghan Mothers and Children project, funded by USAID, helps more women and babies survive pregnancy and birth by empowering doctors and midwives to provide care to women in hard-to-reach locations.

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