Women’s struggles, difficult pregnancy inspires mother to become a midwife – Afghanistan
Faryab, Afghanistan – Growing up, midwife Sima Ayobi witnessed how difficult it was for pregnant women to access maternity care in their remote village in Faryab province. Experiencing the same challenge later in her life pushed her to take the path of midwifery.
“Even now, we don’t have health professionals, including midwives, to support pregnant women in our village,” Ms. Ayobi said. “I also struggled with my own pregnancy and that’s when I decided to become a midwife so I could help the women in my village.”
Ms. Ayobi is one of 36 midwives currently undergoing a two-month refresher training in the northern region of Afghanistan. After completing the training, the midwives will be deployed to family health homes in the region to support the provision of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health care. She will be the first midwife trained to serve her own community.
About 10% of the country’s population live in remote areas where the nearest health facility is 10 kilometers away, on average. The Family Health House (FHH) program is a UNFPA initiative to address the lack of health care for women, newborns and children in these hard-to-reach areas.
Afghanistan has the highest maternal mortality rates in the Asia-Pacific region, with about one woman dying every two hours due to preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Women’s lack of access to safe childbirth facilities is one of the contributing factors to this grim situation.
At the start of the year, UNFPA was supporting 172 FHHs across Afghanistan. With support from the Special Trust Fund for Afghanistan (STFA), an additional 58 FHHs will be constructed in the northern region to reach more people living in remote communities, including Mrs. Ayobi’s village in Pashtun Koot district.
“The current situation of health services in our village is very bad. There is no health facility and people have to travel up to three hours to get to the district center to receive health services,” Ms Ayobi said. Upon completion of her refresher training, Mrs. Ayobi will be the first midwife of the first FHH in her own village.
Mrs Ayobi has not had the chance to work as a full-time midwife since graduating from a midwifery institute in 2017, so she is grateful for the opportunity that has given her. been presented by UNFPA to work for the FHH as part of the expansion program supported by the STFA. .
“My family, especially my husband, are delighted with this opportunity and also with the fact that a family health center will be established in our village,” she told UNFPA. “I’m ready to work!”
Today, there are 196 FHHs operating in the country and UNFPA plans to expand the response to 1,500 in the immediate future.