In times of conflict: A health project to strengthen Maternal & Child Health in Afghanistan
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, 150 midwives will be trained through a simulation-based digital platform to reach over 45,000 households in 10 provinces by February 2022.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Member Association Afghan Family Guidance Association (AFGA) is implementing a new project aimed at providing comprehensive maternal and child services through150-midwives in 10 conflict-prone provinces of the country. The project is a first-of-its-kind ‘midwifery-led technology-enabled intervention’ that will reach the doorsteps of more than 45,000 households across the country.
The project will be implemented by AFGA in collaboration with International Planned Parenthood Federation. The project covers provinces with poor national and provincial health indicators —- Kabul, Nangarhar, Herat, Balkh, Parwan, Kapisa, Laghman, Bamyan, Badakhshan and Samangan provinces.
Najibullah Samim, Chief Executive Officer at Afghan Family Guidance Association said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled public health organizations to think of innovative ways to train healthcare providers and reach women and girls with appropriate lifesaving services. This project aims to help save the lives of thousands of women and girls. Midwives are the backbone of the country’s healthcare system, particularly in the rural areas and the training that they will receive will equip them with knowledge and expertise to serve the women of Afghanistan in times to come.”
As per the Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG) estimates Afghanistan is one of the countries with high maternal mortality (678 per 100,000 live births). The high maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is largely attributed to postpartum haemorrhage (59.9%) and preeclampsia/eclampsia (19.8%). Only 58.8% of the births are attended by skilled birth attendants (SBA) and 48% of deliveries are institutional or in hospitals.
The uniqueness of this project lies in its use of a digitally enabled simulation-based capacity building platform wherein 150 midwives are being trained on ‘Basic emergency obstetric, new-born care (BEmONC)’, ‘Preeclampsia (a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and after labour and which can be serious if left untreated) and post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) management’ (a serious medical condition where pregnant woman suffer heavy bleeding after giving birth), refresher training on management of complicated deliveries and use of reproductive health kits.
Midwives will also be trained on using smartphone integrated antenatal care kit which will include off-the-shelf devices to measure blood pressure, haemoglobin, random blood sugar, urine tests and monitor fetal heartbeat and growth) for provision of high quality antenatal and post-natal services. These devices will allow midwives to test women in the privacy and comfort of their homes. This will ensure early diagnosis, timely referral and effective management of pregnancy-related complications and significantly reduce the deaths and serious complications among mothers and newborns.
The project has been designed to ensure strong support to midwives on-field through a virtual consultation centre staffed by gynaecologists and equipped with appropriate technologies. This is further strengthened by organized referral linkages with different levels of public health facilities managed by the Ministry of Public Health Afghanistan. The project also involves strong engagement with key community and religious leaders to ensure community participation and create an enabling environment.
Afghan Family Guidance Association: AFGA is one of the oldest non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan set up in 1968 to provide families, women especially, with maternal and child healthcare services and counselling. AFGA is a member association of the IPPF has access to its core funding, technical support, and collaboration opportunities from a network of IPPF member associations in the South Asia region and beyond.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation: IPPF is a global healthcare provider. As a worldwide federation of national organizations, it works in over 160 countries. The IPPF South Asia Regional Office (SARO) is one of six regional networks of IPPF that advocates with governments to fulfil their commitments towards maternal and childcare.