Ms. Brooke Isham, USAID deputy mission director speaks at the international day of the midwife celebration in Kabul.
On May 3, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Kabul hosted an International Day of the Midwife ceremony. The event is in conjunction with the Seventh Annual Afghan Midwives Association Congress on May 1 and 2. The International Day of the Midwife is a global day celebrating the achievements and successes of maternal and midwifery services in Afghanistan. The theme this year is “the world needs midwives—now more than ever.” The purpose of the day is to celebrate midwifery and to increase public awareness of the important work done by midwives in improving maternal and newborn health. USAID is providing support to the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA) to host this ceremony in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health.
“Today we are witnessing fundamental improvements in the training of nurses and midwives in international standards. This reduces the mortality rate of mothers and newborns. For example if we compare the year 2002 with the current year, considerable reduction has occurred in the mortality rate of mothers and children. Before one out of every four newborns died, but now one out of every six newborns dies. Before one out of nine pregnant women died, but now one of eleven pregnant women dies”, said Dr. Suraya Dalil Acting Minister of Public Health at the celebration.
“The presence of a midwife at birth is the single most important factor in reducing maternal mortality and greatly improves a baby’s chance of survival here in Afghanistan. Midwives also provide information to mothers on healthy behaviors to ensure the baby has the best start in life”, noted Brooke Isham, USAID Deputy Mission Director.
The presence of a skilled provider at birth is a key factor in reducing the risk of maternal death. In line with Afghanistan’s Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality by 50% by 2014, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is committed to reducing high levels of maternal and newborn mortality by increasing the number of trained and skilled midwives at birth, particularly in remote and rural areas of the country. To this end, the MoPH has given special emphasis to the continued scale up of the midwifery workforce, particularly community midwives, through the expansion of midwifery education programs. USAID, through the Health Services Support Project, supports midwifery education by providing grants and technical assistance to 14 community midwifery education programs and 2 hospital midwifery education programs.
USAID is a key partner with the Ministry of Public Health to expand midwifery and nursing education, and is working closely with the Ministry of Public Health to double the number of midwives. Since 2003, USAID has worked with the MoPH to train more than 1600 more midwives in Afghanistan—approximately half of all midwives currently in the country.