Midwives in Afghanistan
Most first-time mothers in Afghan refugee camps are young teenage girls age 12- 16. They give birth in the family tent, attended by family members. There is little knowledge in the community of hygiene and safe birth practices and consequently these girls have one of the highest maternal-mortality rates in the world.
This year the Hillman Fund supplied 2 midwives to work with our partner Tabish, in 3 refugee camps in Kabul. The camps have approx 800 families each and, this year, a total of 142 women expecting babies. We are delighted to report 142 successful deliveries !
Our midwives work very hard, visiting the camps at all hours of day and night. After an initial survey they identified the following priorities:
- Provide Health education and hygiene education
- Ensure personal hygiene and self-care for mothers and babies
- Provide pre and post natal care visits and safe delivery
- Provide breast-feeding support
- Encourage vaccination
- Explain and set up a referral pathway to hospital for complications
- Provide family planning advice and support
All these subjects were covered in group pre-natal classes and through one on one visits for individual needs. The midwives continued visits up until delivery, assisted with delivery, and provided postpartum and breast-feeding support. Where necessary, the mothers with complications were referred to hospital. Safe birthing kits were provided for each delivery, iron pills for anaemia, and antibiotics for postpartum infections. 142 pregnant women attended the classes and received care and 28 were referred to hospital. All the babies were born successfully, all the mothers survived and began successful breast-feeding and all the babies were vaccinated. 120 women received family planning. As you can see, this small project has already shown a significant impact.
Our midwives speak of the challenges to their work: A lack of transportation, the small budget and the huge number of potential clients. Within the community they constantly see poor hygiene practices and run into cultural resistance to change. But their results speak for themselves and they are overwhelmed with requests for assistance.
Since the midwives have started working in the camps, we have found a 50% reduction in diarrhea and other bacterial infections and a reduction in the number of cases of postpartum infection. The new knowledge of hygiene will be passed through the community and impact others beyond the scope of this program.
We are looking for funding to supply the midwives with better equipment and teaching materials and to expand the program to other camps. Any donation will make a huge difference. If you would like to donate to this project, please click on the link below and select “Hillman Fund” in the top section. Please write “Afghanistan Safe Motherhood” in the further comments section. Thank-you for your support!