Jul 22, 2011

Afghanistan: The Worst Place to be a Mother


With the highest maternal mortality rate (2000 deaths/100,000 live births) and lowest female life expectancy (44 yrs) in the world, Afghanistan has the uneviable title of being the ‘worst place to be a mother’. Conditions for women and their children are beyond poor. Again, the health ministry has given a high priority to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. The country currently lacks hundreds of skilled birth attendants and now there is a major push to train midwives. By 2013, the country hopes to have some 2,300 midwives serving women of reproductive age. However, a significant drawback to this effort is the huge problem of tranportation in the these remote villages. Roughly 85% of the population lives between 3-4 hours away from a healthcare facility. Currently most women in labor either deliver at home with no help or die on their way to the health facility. Less than 25% of pregnant women have access to a skilled birth attendants, while the others give birth with the assistance of unskilled, elderly women in the most remote areas of Afghanistan. Like Afghanistan, Uganda faces similar challenges (except for the extreme mounateous terrain) Life for Mothers (LfM) has come across these hurdles and will address poor birthing outcomes due to the lack of unskilled birth attendants and the remoteness of villages from the health center, as well as other factors (see home page of LfM's website). By using community health workers (CHWs) to inform women and their partners regarding the need for mothers to deliver at a health facility in the presence of a skilled birth attendant to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. Also, the CHWs will assist mothers along with their children to receive adequate nutrition and preventive care. It is hoped that life expectancy will increase and health systems will be strengthened. To read the full article and learn more about LfM's work, click here

Did you know?

Children who have lost their mothers are up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely than those who have not.

Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010

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