Greater role for women in health sector underscored
KABUL (Pajhwok): Afghan, World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) officials on Wednesday stressed the need for gender equality and a greater role for women in the health sector.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), together with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and partners, celebrated International Women’s Day in Kabul.
Ministry officials, healthcare providers and civil society organisations highlighted women’s crucial contributions to improving healthcare in Afghanistan while calling for action to step up gender equality and increase the number of women working in the health sector.
“Women make vital contributions to public health strategies and plans and to the delivery of health services. The ministry remains committed to the equal rights of girls and women to receive quality healthcare at all stages of their lives,” the minister of public health said.
Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz added increasing women’s participation in all roles in the health sector at all levels was a key priority that was also emphasised in Afghanistan’s new National Health Strategy and Policy for 2016-2020.
Dr.BannetNdyanabangi, UNFPA representative, renewed the UN agency’s commitment to supporting MoPH to increase the presence of female health workers in both service delivery and management of the important sector.
“One of the key barriers is child marriage which is prevalent in Afghanistan, but under-documented. Globally, every day 37,000 girls under 18 years of age are forced into marriage that is denying their fundamental human rights.
“Girls need to be educated so they will be able to add to the number of female health workers. We, therefore, need to end child marriage”, the UNFPA representative argued.
WHO Country Representative Dr. Richard Peeperkornalso underscored the dire need to recruit more female health workers and professionals into all roles and levels of the health sector. Peeperkornalso urged more investment in improving fair and equitable recruitment and retention policies for healthcare workers.
“Discrimination and harassment remain challenges that must be urgently tackled. Women must be encouraged and supported to apply for work in the health sector and we must ensure safe and respectful workplaces for everyone. Employing women in the health sector brings better health and well-being for all.”
Out of Afghanistan’s 5,858 doctors, only 22% are women. Women constitute 21% of the country’s 5,599 nurses. Currently 11,037 women community health workers provide essential basic health services and health education to women around Afghanistan. However, only 3% of 958 community health supervisors are women.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.