Young Afghan ladies prepare as midwives as nation’s maternal mortality price is amongst the best in world

In a small village circled by velvety white snow-topped mountains in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province, Aziza Rahimi mourns the child son she misplaced final yr after a harrowing beginning with no medical care.

“It was too hard for me when I lost my baby. As a mother, I nurtured the baby in my womb for nine months but then I lost him, it is too painful,” stated Rahimi, 35.

The village’s rugged and distant magnificence in Bamiyan’s Foladi Valley comes with lethal boundaries for pregnant moms. A slim highway to the village with few automobiles is typically lower off by snow, severing a lifeline to hospitals, clinics and educated well being employees.

However, a doubtlessly life-saving enchancment is on the best way. Rahimi’s village is considered one of a number of round Bamiyan which have despatched 40 younger ladies to coach for 2 years as midwives within the provincial capital, after which they’ll return house.

Isolation can turn into a loss of life sentence in any troublesome beginning, medical doctors and support employees say, contributing to Afghanistan’s extraordinarily excessive maternal and toddler mortality charges, among the many worst on this planet.


The United Nations estimates an Afghan girl dies each two hours throughout being pregnant and childbirth, making Afghanistan’s maternal mortality price the best in Asia.

The trainee midwife programme has been spearheaded by the U.N. refugee company (UNHCR) with the Watan Social and Technical Services Association, an area charity. They hope to increase the programme, which additionally takes place in neighbouring Daikundi province.

Since taking on in 2021, Taliban authorities have barred ladies from universities and most charity jobs, however they’ve made exemptions within the healthcare sector and UNHCR says native well being authorities are supportive of the undertaking. 

Aziza Rahimi, 35, poses for a photograph inside her home in Foladi Valley in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, March 2, 2023. Rahimi gave beginning, however her child died shortly after. (REUTERS/Ali Khara)


“When the roads are blocked of course there is no means of transportation, people even use donkeys to move patients to the clinic centres, but sometimes there is not even the opportunity for that,” stated Mohammad Ashraf Niazi, the top of UNHCR’s Bamiyan workplace.

Rahimi, who has 5 different youngsters, stated using a donkey was out of the query when she was jolted by ache whereas 9 months’ pregnant in the course of the evening 4 months in the past. Stumbling, bleeding, for 2 hours to her in-laws’ home after her husband was unable to discover a automobile or ambulance to take them to hospital, she gave beginning there.


The child died shortly after. Too late, an ambulance arrived.

Women giving beginning expertise a really totally different state of affairs in Bamiyan’s important metropolis hospital the place the trainee midwives work alongside employees, and with the assistance of a coach discover ways to assess and information pregnant ladies, ship infants and supply post-partum care.

“We want to learn and serve the people of our village,” stated one 23-year-old trainee, who walks two hours every day to the hospital. UNHCR requested the trainees not be named for security.

In one small hospital clinic, with dozens of girls ready exterior, a trainee midwife guides a lady with the assistance of a e book of photographs on what to anticipate to arrange for beginning below the watchful eye of two educated healthworkers.


Any ladies with dangers of problems are admitted to a maternity ward in a close-by constructing the place one other trainee midwife takes the blood stress of a pregnant affected person affected by an an infection. She checks commonly on a lady who gave beginning six hours earlier, her child daughter nestled by her facet.

Many of the trainee midwives, some with young children of their very own, have confronted logistical and monetary challenges, typically having to journey big distances, or stay removed from house to attend the programme.

“At first, I didn’t want to study nursing or to be a midwife, but after I faced problems and pains during my pregnancy, I got a desire to study midwifery,” stated a 20-year previous trainee, the mom of an 18-month previous son who struggled to entry care in her village. She stated many ladies and households in distant areas didn’t have the data and help they wanted to arrange for a secure supply.

“We have to change such kind of thoughts … I want to go to remote areas to treat women who face problems.”