Political, Community Support Critical To Improving Maternal Mortality In Afghanistan

“Ten years ago, I took my first role as a midwife in a refugee camp in Iran. … The situation for women and children was terrible — the maternal mortality rate was among the worst in the world,” Sabera Turkmani, president of Afghan Midwives Association, writes in this Al Jazeera opinion piece. “Today, there are many more trained midwives in Afghanistan, and the situation for mothers has improved,” she continues, adding, “Yet there is still a long way to go in providing mothers and babies with the support they need to save more lives.”

Turkmani discusses “the lessons learnt that could help Afghanistan tackle the malnutrition crisis.” “If the political will is there, everything else will follow,” she writes, adding, “By developing policies that have created an enabling environment, to providing funding to train more midwives in rural areas, with political will we have been able to mobilize communities to save more lives.” She continues, “Political support is needed, but change begins in communities,” adding, “Training women to be health workers and midwives has been critical to improving health services.” She concludes, “Afghanistan is at a turning point. I hope we can harness this kind of motivation and belief that change is possible, and learn from the lessons so far to make Afghanistan a safer and better place for mothers and children” (10/14).