Stretch marks, maternity leave, baby names, mood swings and morning sickness; these are some of the many concerns that weigh on a woman’s mind during pregnancy. With all of the changes to her body and life, there is much for a pregnant woman to worry about. But in Afghanistan, the country with the world’s 4th highest maternal mortality rate, women must first worry about their very survival.
In remote areas of the country, away from state of the art technology, medications and hospitals, women are especially at risk.
This harsh reality motivated the class of 29 women from Kapisa, Parwan, and Panjshir provinces, who graduated as midwives April 10, to become an essential part of Afghanistan’s medical community.
“If a woman becomes sick (during pregnancy) she cannot tell a male doctor the real problem. Now they have somebody to go to. The midwife is a champion for Afghan women, they have bravery and zeal,” said Abdul Basir Salangi, the Governor of Parwan.
Salangi was one of the many government officials, including the Governor of Kapisa and Health Ministry Officials, who showed up to congratulate the midwives on their momentous achievement.
The graduation ceremony was the culmination of 18 months of training, all of which was to International Midwifery Standards, included studying in labs, libraries, and hospitals.
According to Dr. Hamidi Shahgowl, Charikar Midwife Academy program director, this is the third class to graduate from the academy. The academy is funded by USAID and the Parwan Provincial Reconstruction Team.
In addition to providing funding, the PRT also oversees the midwife program and ensures that it is running smoothly. Their goal is to ensure the system runs smoothly so that more women in the future can be in the same position as the 29 women were on their graduation day, said Chris Robbins, the Operations Officer for the PRT.
Although the ceremony marked the end of their formal schooling, it marks the beginning of their education in healthcare.
At the end of the ceremony, the women took an oath and entered into a five-year service commitment as midwives.
“Serving for a mother is serving for Afghanistan,” said Khoja Ghulam Ghous Abubaker, the Governor of Kapisa.
IN Afghanistan, 16 of every 1,000 women die during child birth. In 2005 there were 26,000 maternal deaths in Afghanistan compared to 440 in the United States (according to the World Health Organization).
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