Maternal health is vital issue around the globe but unfortunately it does not receive the attention and action that it deserves. Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, next to Sierra Leone. According to a recent Christian Science Monitor article, two-thirds of Afghanistan’s population has no maternal nor child health services and only ten percent of Afghanistan’s hospitals are equipped for Cesarean surgeries. Eighty percent of maternal deaths in Afghanistan are preventable. According to a recent Washington Times article , causes of these statistics include: lack of facilities, impassable roads that isolate communities, and a severe lack of medical professionals to treat and educate. The odds are stacked against women as they are unable to afford a hospital, cannot access one even if they can afford it, and because of cultural values of their conservative societies, are prohibited from examination by male doctors.
There has been a growing trend as of late where women are taking the initiative themselves to promote maternal health. Midwives are going from village to village in Afghanistan teaching how to efficiently wash hands and encouraging even very young girls to listen in and educate themselves on health care. This is vital in a country where poverty and illiteracy are a part of everyday life and access to health information is extremely limited. In addition to maternal care, the midwives teach women how to support a baby’s head and how to cut the umbilical cord when the child is born. According to the Christian Science Monitor, this has been life-saving for many mothers and it provides an income for the midwives, increasing their economic standing in society.
Barakat’s programs focus on a more comprehensive health education system as our schools provide basic health services and education. Health checkups and treatments are available for our students. Patients who need specialized care, treatments, and medicine are taken to the hospital. Barakat aims to have health check-ups on a monthly basis in the future. The trend of NGO’s making positive impacts on Afghanistan’s social problems is a necessity because the Afghan government simply cannot provide the necessary services for it’s people at the moment. Until these services can be provided for the Afghan people, NGOs will continue to be necessary to improve people’s livelihoods through health care, food, and education.
Maternal Mortality cuts the life of so many women short and is extremely detrimental to development of their children as well as society as a whole. Together with other NGO’s, Barakat is working to reduce these staggering statistics.