More investment in midwifery stressed
KABUL (Pajhwok): A four-fold increase in investment in midwifery is necessary over the next 15 years to meet 60 percent of the needs for maternal and reproductive health services, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said on Wednesday.
The assessment came in a report presented by the ministry, the Afghan Midwifery Association, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Health Organization and the United States Agency for International Development.
The State of Afghanistan’s Midwifery 2014 highlights the achievements and challenges of the midwifery profession in the country, with focus on the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of the services provided.
Acting Minister of Public Health Dr Ahmad Jan Naeem said: “Afghanistan is a regional leader on the midwifery profession and a model for reducing maternal mortality in post-conflict settings.”
In 2002, he recalled, there were only 467 midwives in the country but a decade later, the number rose to more than 4,600 and they had been instrumental in reducing maternal mortality from 1,600 to 327.
But the report points out only 23 percent of the needs for maternal and reproductive health services are currently met.
“Increased investment in midwifery is needed so the majority of women in Afghanistan will be able to plan their family and deliver their babies safely,” said Dr Annette Sachs Robertson, UNFPA representative for Afghanistan.
“There is a need to increase the number and efficiency of educated professional midwives and improve recruitment policies, career pathways and retention policies,” said Dr Robertson.
Investment in the availability of services is one of the key recommendations of the report, which also highlights Afghanistan’s achievements in promoting the quality of services provided.
“Until 2011, midwives were educated through two routes: an accelerated two-year direct entry programme through the Institute of Health Services and a direct entry community midwifery programme,” explained Dr. Mursal Musawai, executive director of the Afghan Midwives Association.
“Currently Afghanistan is proud to have a four-year midwifery bachelor degree and a bridging programme to build the capacity of existing midwives, two initiatives that will enhance the quality of the maternal and reproductive health services in our country,” said Gharsin.
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