Bamyan, Afghanistan, 23 July 2016 - Today, 45 women trained by the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) graduated from the two-year Community Midwifery Education (CME) programme in Bamyan. The training of these 45 Community Midwives, in two separate batches, was supported by the Ministry of Public Health SEHAT project and the governments of Canada and France, respectively. The 45 women that took their oath of midwifery today are part of a larger group of 177 midwives trained by AKHS in Bamyan.
As part of a national programme of the Ministry of Public Health, supported through USAID, there are now over 2,700 trained community midwives across the country. AKHS, since 2004, has trained 413 in Bamyan, Baghlan and Badakhshan provinces. An additional 26 women will graduate as Community Midwives in Badakhshan later this month.
The training of midwives plays a role in the decline of maternal mortality, which in Afghanistan has dropped from 1,600/100,000 live births in 2003 to 375/100,000 live births in 2010. There is consensus that professionally skilled, properly equipped and supervised birth attendants reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. In Bamyan province, the proportion of births delivered by skilled birth attendants has increased from 7 percent in 2005 to 47 percent in 2015.
The CME graduation in Bamyan was presided over by H.E. Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health.The Governor of Bamyan, H.E. Mr. Tahir Zuhair was also in attendance as well as H.E. Dr. Farida Mohmand, Minister of Higher Education. Representatives from the Ministries, Provincial Council and Provincial Government were also in attendance.
Representatives from the Aga Khan Development Network included Dr. Gijs Walraven, AKDN Director for Health, Dr. Fatima Mohbatali, Regional CEO AKHS Central Asia, Dr. Shafiq Mirzazada, CEO AKHS, Afghanistan and Dr. Nayamat Shah CEO FMIC. The ceremony was also attended by representatives of development agencies active in Bamyan, staff of the Bamyan Provincial Hospital and members from the media and local community.
Welcoming guests to Bamyan, Mr.Riza Akbari, Provincial Public Health Director mentioned that the Bamyan trained midwives help to ensure the development of the health sector in Bamyan as well as the surrounding provinces of Daikundi and Ghor and significantly helps to reduce the number of newborn and maternal mortalities.
H.E. Governor Zuhair welcomed the Ministers and AKDN representatives, congratulated the midwives for their achievement and emphasised the need to remain focused on ensuring high quality health services in the province.
H.E. Minister Feroz thanked AKDN and specifically acknowledged AKHS as well as the governments of Canada and France and USAID for supporting the CME programme in Bamyan. He commented that the duty of midwives is more important than any other medical profession and referred to midwives as angels. He noted that the Ministry holds the profession in high regard and encouraged midwives to remain in the profession and to climb the ladder of education in their professional career rather than moving to a new profession. The Minister concluded by expressing his anticipation for a Masters degree for nurses and midwives in Afghanistan.
Mrs. Nurjehan Mawani, AKDN Diplomatic Representative for Afghanistan commented on the occasion, and said: “AKDN is proud of its partnership with the Ministry of Public Health in strengthening critical health human resources”. She added, “Since 2004 over 4,000 women have been trained as community midwives and community nurses across the country of which a quarter of them have been trained and supported by AKDN institutions with the support and collaboration of its partners.”
Dr. Gijs Walraven remarked to the audience: “Midwives save lives. When educated to international standards and within a fully functional health system, midwives can provide about 90% of the essential care to mothers and newborns and can potentially reduce maternal and newborn deaths by two thirds. Although more work remains to be done, Afghanistan is making good progress in reducing maternal and child mortality. And I would like to suggest that Afghanistan’s effort to revive and strengthen midwifery is playing a key role in this mortality reduction."
Commending the graduates and their families, Dr. Walraven elaborated: "Today we celebrate the role played by Afghanistan’s midwives especially the new graduates: the courageous women who left their homes for training, have succeeded in their exams and now take back home the knowledge and skills to preserve the lives of mothers and newborns. Many congratulations to you all.”
Dr. Shafiq Mirzazada expressed gratitude to the students and those who contributed to the success of the CME programmes such as the teachers and school leaders. He further thanked all those that contribute to the ongoing work of AKHS in Afghanistan and particularly in Bamyan including the Governments of Canada, France, and the USAID who have supported the program in Bamyan since its inception.
After the graduation ceremony, Minister Feroz visited the new site of the Bamyan Provincial Hospital to review progress of construction being managed by AKDN.
The Aga Khan Health Service, Afghanistan (AKHS) was established in 2003 as part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to provide primary and curative health care to the Afghan population as well as technical assistance in health service delivery to the Government of the Islamic of Afghanistan. AKHS in Afghanistan provides services through 12 basic and comprehensive health centres, 11 sub-centres, one prison health clinic and over 125 health posts. It also manages one district hospital and two provincial hospitals in Bamyan and Faizabad, Badakhshan.
AKHS, A is an active partner of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in the implementation of the Basic Package of Health Services and the Essential Package of Hospital Services. Through its activities, AKHS, A provides basic health and hospital services to a population of more than 1.6 million people in some of Afghanistan’s most remote and inaccessible districts in the provinces of Badakhshan, Baghlan, and Bamyan.
AKHS, A is also working with the Government of Afghanistan to develop and maintain qualified health human resources in all areas of health care by offering continuous education for doctors, nurses, health professionals and administrators, as well as providing technical advice and support on health policy, nursing standards and midwifery education.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, is a private, international, non-denominational development organisation. It employs over 80,000 people in over 30 countries. AKDN agencies address complex development issues, including the provision of quality healthcare and education services, cultural and economic revitalisation, micro-enterprise, entrepreneurship and economic development, the advancement of civil society and the protection of the environment. For more information, please see: www.akdn.org.
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Shafiq Mirzazada
Chief Executive Officer
Aga Khan Health Service, Afghanistan
Tel: +93(0) 793 203 044