Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries, yet the world has been pre-occupied with it for many centuries. The British Empire fought 3 wars trying to occupy the country, then the Soviet Union invaded killing millions of people and trying to implement communism to deeply religious people. The last started in 2001 by US and is still ongoing. These conflicts have led to 3 decades of war and political instability leading to collapsed economy along with years of severe drought.
Now Afghanistan’s health care is the tragically poorest in the world ranking as number 173 of 190 countries according to the World Health Organizations ranking of health care.
Up to 78% of people in rural places have no access to health care at all, mostly women. Many infectious diseases such as respiratory infections, measles, trauma, psychological trauma, diarrhea and malnutrition are significant problems. There is also critical shortage of health personnel at every level and health institutions needs urgent restoration after years of war. Inadequate supplies of medicines, vaccines, equipment and fuel makes a hard situation even worse and an estimated of only 6 million people have access to health care.
There have been an improvement since 2001, but more is needed. A number of NGO’s including the Afghan government is working to rebuild the health care system.
Midwifes are saving lives
The maternal mortality rate is 1,600 each 100,000 births according to the National Human Development Report on Afghanistan making it the second highest maternal mortality in the world. One of the reasons to this must be that less than 15% of births are attended by a health care professional. Majority of births happens home without any professional help.
When the first and only midwifery school opened in 2004 in Bamiyan, Central-Afghanistan, there was not a single application arrived to the 18 months of training. One year later, the school had to deny dozens of applications from women all over the country because it only can house 25 students at a time.
The importance of the midwifery is obvious when the maternal death during child birth delivery decreased about 50% said Zainab Rezayee, an obstetrician in Bamiyan City Hospital.
How can we defy traditions?
Conservative traditions has limited women’s and girl’s access to education, employment, health care and other social activities throughout the country. Social norms require that females must be escorted by a male relative outside the home, limiting the mobility of their access to health centers because of the lack of female health workers. More midwifes are needed, more schools must be build and the ranking must be higher for a better Afghanistan, not lower.