This weekend, the Christian Science Monitor published an article called, “Amid war Afghanistan trains thousands of new midwives.” The article says:
Pashtoon Azfar, head of the Afghan Midwives Association, says the number of trained midwives has grown nearly six-fold since rebuilding effort in Afghanistan began. “In 2002, we had 467 midwives, but no one knew how qualified they were; for years, they had received no access to training,” says Ms. Azfar, also a midwifery specialist with the international nonprofit health organization Jhpiego, whose maternal health programs are funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Today, there are more than 2,400 midwives around the country who have been trained in a standardized and accredited two-year program, she says.
We know that real progress in reducing maternal mortality cannot be achieved without strengthening health systems. This includes addressing serious gaps, including 1.1 million health care professionals (midwives, nurses, doctors, and specialists) and managers by 2015 around the world. Though midwives can help save the lives of mothers around the world, training programs can do so much more. The article continues:
“If people think a midwife in their family will be contributing to the household, fathers and brothers will support their mothers and wives and daughters,” says Azfar. “If a woman has any economic role in the family, for sure she has some decisionmaking role as well. That is why I am an advocate of this. It is not just for midwifery – it is for change.”
We believe that women are at the heart of the economic world. And we know what it costs global economies to lose over 560,000 women a year in pregnancy and childbirth. One of the key parts of this article that gave me such hope was this:
When an older woman tells a girl living next door she is too young to join the session, the midwives intervene. The more learning, the better, they say, in a country plagued by the world’s second-highest maternal mortality rate.
Photo by: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File