For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 22, 2010
HIRAT, AFGHANISTAN- U.S. Embassy Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne and Acting Minister of Public Health Dr. Suraya Dalil joined Hirat Governor Yusuf Nuristani and regional Afghan health officials and members of the international donor community at a graduation ceremony for 40 midwives yesterday from the Hirat Institute of Health Sciences.
Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. About every 30 minutes a mother dies giving birth in Afghanistan, and 77 percent of these deaths are due to factors that could be avoided with proper health care. The neonatal mortality rate is also high in Afghanistan, with 60 newborns out of every 1,000 dying in the first month of life. “The Ministry of Public Health will be working to ensure that public health services are available to all Afghans, and maternal child care is one of our biggest concerns,” said Acting Minister of Public Health (MoPH) Dr. Suraya Dalil.
This U.S.-funded Health Services Support Program collaborates with the ministry to support 10 midwifery schools throughout Afghanistan, and is increasing the number of skilled midwives in an effort to reduce infant and maternal mortality. There is a Millennium Development Goal of reducing infant and maternal mortality in Afghanistan by 50 percent by the year 2015.
“It takes two years of intense training to provide these women with the knowledge and skills needed to become midwives, and I thank them for committing to the important role of serving mothers and newborns in Afghanistan,” Ambassador Wayne said in his remarks. “By setting this high standard for accreditation, the MoPH has shown commitment to the goal of professional care for Afghanistan’s women and children. We will continue our support to Afghan families in this important area.”
With multi-donor support and high-level commitment from the MoPH, the number of midwives in Afghanistan has increased from 467 in 2002 to 2,200 in 2009. USAID has helped train 1,458 midwives and developed the midwifery education program utilized by 34 midwifery schools in 32 provinces.
Last updated: September 17, 2014