Young Afghan women train as midwives as country’s maternal mortality rate is amongst the highest 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 12 months after a harrowing start with no medical care.

“It was too laborious for me once I misplaced my child. As a mom, I nurtured the child in my womb for 9 months however then I misplaced him, it’s too painful,” stated Rahimi, 35.

The village’s rugged and distant magnificence in Bamiyan’s Foladi Valley comes with lethal obstacles for pregnant moms. A slim street to the village with few automobiles is usually reduce off by snow, severing a lifeline to hospitals, clinics and skilled well being employees.

Nevertheless, a doubtlessly life-saving enchancment is on the way in which. Rahimi’s village is one in every of a number of round Bamiyan which have despatched 40 younger girls to coach for 2 years as midwives within the provincial capital, after which they are going to return dwelling.

Isolation can grow to be a dying sentence in any troublesome start, medical doctors and help 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 lady 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 Companies Affiliation, a neighborhood charity. They hope to increase the programme, which additionally takes place in neighbouring Daikundi province.

Since taking up in 2021, Taliban authorities have barred girls 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 venture. 

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


“When the roads are blocked in fact there is no such thing as a technique of transportation, folks even use donkeys to maneuver sufferers to the clinic centres, however generally there’s not even the chance for that,” stated Mohammad Ashraf Niazi, the pinnacle of UNHCR’s Bamiyan workplace.

Rahimi, who has 5 different kids, stated using a donkey was out of the query when she was jolted by ache whereas 9 months’ pregnant in the midst 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 automotive or ambulance to take them to hospital, she gave start there.


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

Ladies giving start 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 girls, ship infants and supply post-partum care.

“We wish to study and serve the folks 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 a single small hospital clinic, with dozens of girls ready outdoors, a trainee midwife guides a girl with the assistance of a guide of photos on what to anticipate to arrange for start below the watchful eye of two skilled healthworkers.


Any girls with dangers of issues 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 usually on a girl who gave start six hours earlier, her child daughter nestled by her aspect.

Lots of the trainee midwives, some with babies of their very own, have confronted logistical and monetary challenges, typically having to journey enormous distances, or dwell removed from dwelling to attend the programme.

“At first, I did not wish to research nursing or to be a midwife, however after I confronted issues and pains throughout my being pregnant, I acquired a need to check 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 knowledge and assist they wanted to arrange for a secure supply.

“Now we have to alter such form of ideas … I wish to go to distant areas to deal with girls who face issues.”