Bringing health care to Afghanistan’s vulnerable women

In Afghanistan’s desolate Herat province,
women rarely seen outside their homes crowd into this village mosque. They are here for a life-saving appointment
with Bibigul Momand, the midwife who has delivered thousands of babies. Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most
dangerous places for women to have children because of limited and inaccessible medical facilities. The fate of their young children is even worse. At least 1 in 10 will die before their fifth birthday. But UNICEF is working hard to reverse these
odds. By supporting mobile medical teams like this
one, the organization is taking maternal care to the remotest corners of Afghanistan. Health facilities are very far from
here, and people can’t afford to travel. They have to cope with this alone. Sometimes sick people die, so I’m coming here to support them. Most of these deaths are preventable
with vaccinations, basic medical care and hygiene. Serious health problems are referred to larger
facilities like the Khairia Rezaee Maternity Hospital in Herat. It’s here that Rukshana just delivered a
baby girl. She travelled for five hours by road from
her isolated village to stay at the hospital’s maternity waiting home for expecting and new mothers. Rukshana says she has already lost three children to miscarriage and home deliveries, and she could not bear to loose anymore. The children are sometimes born dead, and the mothers bleed a lot during the deliveries. The children also suffer from
health problems. They get sick after being born and sometimes die from illnesses like
pneumonia. Doctors say this service is a lifeline for
many rural women, who often die in childbirth. The maternity hospital now delivers
up to 80 babies a day, with pregnant women pouring in from across the province. Through UNICEF’s mobile health teams and
the waiting homes, women and children in the country’s most isolated corners are getting
more access to life-saving health care than ever before. This is Karishma Vyas in Herat, western Afghanistan.

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