Younger Afghan girls practice as midwives as nation’s maternal mortality charge is amongst the best in world

In a small village circled by velvety white snow-topped mountains in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province, Aziza Rahimi mourns the child son she misplaced final yr after a harrowing delivery with no medical care.

“It was too exhausting for me once I misplaced my child. As a mom, I nurtured the child in my womb for 9 months however then I misplaced him, it’s too painful,” stated Rahimi, 35.

The village’s rugged and distant magnificence in Bamiyan’s Foladi Valley comes with lethal obstacles for pregnant moms. A slender highway to the village with few automobiles is usually minimize off by snow, severing a lifeline to hospitals, clinics and skilled well being staff.

Nevertheless, a probably life-saving enchancment is on the best way. Rahimi’s village is considered one of a number of round Bamiyan which have despatched 40 younger girls to coach for 2 years as midwives within the provincial capital, after which they’ll return dwelling.

Isolation can develop into a loss of life sentence in any tough delivery, docs and support staff say, contributing to Afghanistan’s extraordinarily excessive maternal and toddler mortality charges, among the many worst on the earth.


The United Nations estimates an Afghan girl dies each two hours throughout being pregnant and childbirth, making Afghanistan’s maternal mortality charge the best in Asia.

The trainee midwife programme has been spearheaded by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) with the Watan Social and Technical Companies Affiliation, a neighborhood charity. They hope to develop the programme, which additionally takes place in neighbouring Daikundi province.

Since taking up in 2021, Taliban authorities have barred girls from universities and most charity jobs, however they’ve made exemptions within the healthcare sector and UNHCR says native well being authorities are supportive of the undertaking. 

Aziza Rahimi, 35, poses for a photo inside her house in Foladi Valley in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, March 2, 2023. Rahimi gave birth, but her baby died shortly after.

Aziza Rahimi, 35, poses for a photograph inside her home in Foladi Valley in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, March 2, 2023. Rahimi gave delivery, however her child died shortly after. (REUTERS/Ali Khara)


“When the roads are blocked in fact there is no such thing as a technique of transportation, folks even use donkeys to maneuver sufferers to the clinic centres, however generally there may be not even the chance for that,” stated Mohammad Ashraf Niazi, the pinnacle of UNHCR’s Bamiyan workplace.

Rahimi, who has 5 different youngsters, stated using a donkey was out of the query when she was jolted by ache whereas 9 months’ pregnant in the course of the night time 4 months in the past. Stumbling, bleeding, for 2 hours to her in-laws’ home after her husband was unable to discover a automobile or ambulance to take them to hospital, she gave delivery there.


The child died shortly after. Too late, an ambulance arrived.

Girls giving delivery expertise a really totally different state of affairs in Bamiyan’s major metropolis hospital the place the trainee midwives work alongside workers, and with the assistance of a coach learn to assess and information pregnant girls, ship infants and supply post-partum care.

“We need to be taught and serve the folks of our village,” stated one 23-year-old trainee, who walks two hours every day to the hospital. UNHCR requested the trainees not be named for security.

In a single small hospital clinic, with dozens of girls ready outdoors, a trainee midwife guides a lady with the assistance of a e-book of photos on what to anticipate to arrange for delivery below the watchful eye of two skilled healthworkers.


Any girls with dangers of issues are admitted to a maternity ward in a close-by constructing the place one other trainee midwife takes the blood stress of a pregnant affected person affected by an infection. She checks frequently on a lady who gave delivery six hours earlier, her child daughter nestled by her aspect.

Most of the trainee midwives, some with young children of their very own, have confronted logistical and monetary challenges, typically having to journey enormous distances, or reside removed from dwelling to attend the programme.

“At first, I did not need to research nursing or to be a midwife, however after I confronted issues and pains throughout my being pregnant, I obtained a want to check midwifery,” stated a 20-year outdated trainee, the mom of an 18-month outdated son who struggled to entry care in her village. She stated many ladies and households in distant areas didn’t have the knowledge and help they wanted to arrange for a protected supply.

“We’ve to vary such type of ideas … I need to go to distant areas to deal with girls who face issues.”


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