Stuff I read - Many Afghan women face lonely, frightening births

Mirwais pediatric ward, April 2011 - ©ICRC/Barry, Jessica

Mirwais pediatric ward, April 2011 - ©ICRC/Barry, Jessica

Timely Reuters piece by Christine Kearney and Jan Harvey today on the difficulties Afghan women face when giving birth.

People' access to health care remains a major issue in Afghanistan. Fighting makes access to health care precarious and poverty means that the rural poor, women in particular, struggle to access medical services. 

Our colleagues in Afghanistan see a clear deterioration of public health care in areas of the country affected by conflict.

Today, there are over 1,000 births each month at the ICRC-supported Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar. This is 300 births per month more than two years ago.  When asked, women say they have no choice but to come to the city to seek medical help when their baby is due because of the absence of local midwifes, or because local health facilities that are not fully functional.

The number of malnourished children arriving at Mirwais is also increasing according to our staff working at the hospital. There are many reasons for this, including local beliefs and traditions about child care and a lack of education about nutrition and hygiene. But it is also due to the lack of access to public health care and simple poverty.

For more on Mirwais, read this October Dispatch by journalist Monica Campbell.