USAID’s successful Midwifery Education Program, which has trained over half of all midwives in Afghanistan, was expanded this week with the announcement of an advanced training and study tour co-sponsored by the Egyptian government. Thirty experienced midwives from across the country will participate in this two-week program in Alexandria, Egypt.
Ambassador Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, joined Acting Minister of Public Health Dr. Suraya Dalil, and Egyptian Ambassador Karim Sharaf to announce the advanced training today at the Ministry of Public Health.
In 2004, USAID assisted the Ministry to develop a curriculum for the midwife program, a two-year course designed to provide women from rural areas with professional midwifery skills. To date, this USAID program has trained 1,467 midwives – 55 percent of all practicing midwives in Afghanistan. Graduates typically return to their communities where they are employed in local health facilities.
“Few programs sponsored by the United States Government have had such a profound impact on Afghan women and their health as the Midwifery Education Program,” said Ambassador Verveer. “The participation of Egypt and the Suzanne Mubarak Center for Women’s Health and Development demonstrates the universal need to treat maternal care from a global front.”
“The Egyptian Embassy is pleased to co-host this Trilateral Cooperation Program and to provide more advanced training for Afghan midwives at the Suzanne Mubarak Centre for Women’s Health and Development in Alexandria. Egypt is honored to share its experiences and successes in promoting safe motherhood and child care for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan,” said Ambassador Sharaf.
The Ministry of Public Health currently estimates that over 2,400 midwives have been trained in Afghanistan, up from 436 in 2002. The Ministry also estimates the need for at least 10,000 additional midwives by 2015 to fill current and anticipated workforce gaps and to achieve the deliveries per midwife ratio recommended by the World Health Organization.
A representative from the Afghan Midwives Association and a midwife from Badakhshan Province selected to participate in the advanced training and study tour also spoke at the event.