Women in Afghanistan risk their life during pregnancy and child birth, especially in rural regions. The country has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. In 2015, for 1000 births, 45 infant mortalities occurred. As over 83 percent of maternal deaths are preventable with timely interventions (WHO) it is vital to provide women and children with access to appropriate health care.
AfD has been delivering midwifery training in Afghanistan since 2014 and has trained about 490 midwives to date in seven provinces. The quality of our midwifery training content is highly regarded; it was developed in cooperation with the Haute Ecole de Santé in Geneva (HEdS) based on the training needs identified by AfD, the Midwives Association of Afghanistan and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health. While the cost of delivering midwifery training through AfD’s program is relatively low, the quality of the training is in line with international standards. AfD’s programmes engage the local community by hiring Afghan trainers, local transportation services and locally manufactured resources.
Most recently, AfD conducted trainings in the provinces of Pandjchir and Takhar, chosen for their rural population, safety situation, access to infrastructure (training centers, hospitals, accommodation) and sufficient transport network.
AfD uses a “cascade” model of training; in the first stage, 41 women followed the program to become midwife trainers themselves. Then these trainers returned to their local areas and shared their newly acquired knowledge with midwives across the provinces, under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Health. As a result, a total of 259 midwives received training in key capacity areas identified by AfD and the Ministry of Public Health’s previous field research. These midwives received official certification and are now better prepared to save mothers’ and newborns’ lives in Pandjchir and Takhar provinces.
In rural areas, where approximately 75% of the population live but where gynecologists are rarely available, the services provided by midwives for women during pregnancy, child birth and postpartum period are vital. AfD’s partnership with HEdS enables midwives in rural areas to benefit from relevant training materials, adapted to their needs and aware of the lack of resources that they are confronted with in their daily work.
In addition to the midwifery training materials developed in recent years, AfD is extending its partnership with HEdS into 2019, with the aim of developing new modules covering needs identified through the project evaluation. “The continue development of our midwife training program is integral to providing Afghan midwives with access to quality training to improve their skills in essential, life-saving areas,” says Alison Farnham, AfD’s Public Health specialist.