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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Making pregnancy safer in Afghanistan: Expanding and strengthening midwifery education

Sheena M. Currie, MEd;PGCE;RM;RN, Afghanistan - REACH program, JHPIEGO, 1615 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231, 410.537.1800, scurrie@jhpiego.net

Two decades of conflict have not only led to a breakdown of infrastructure and services in Afghanistan, but have also contributed to the downward trend of women's rights. Strengthening women's roles in the health and education sectors is key to reconstruction in this post conflict situation.

In 2002 there were less than 500 midwives in Afghanistan. As timely access to skilled care at birth is the most crucial factor for the survival of pregnant women and their newborns significant investment is being made in the training of midwives. This initiative will address the remarkably high maternal mortality ratio particularly in the rural and under served areas.

There are now 5 midwifery programs and over 16 community midwife programs utilizing new skill-focused ‘fit for purpose' curricula. These provide the platform for fundamental changes in strengthening the midwifery profession and require a multi -sectoral approach to human resource development. Additionally, they provide a means for women to undertake further education in a country where such opportunities are limited.

This presentation will review the expansion of midwifery education and the strengthening of the midwifery profession through the Rural Expansion of Afghanistan's Community-based Healthcare (USAID/REACH) Program. It will include an analysis of the strategies used; review the challenges in a country where the political will and commitment to improving the lives of women is weak and make recommendations in strengthening midwifery in other post conflict areas. By July 2006, 804 midwives will be trained, increasing the estimated total number of midwives by 200%.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Midwifery, Professional Training

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Taking Care of Mothers

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA