KABUL, Afghanistan (March 30, 2008) — Zabul Province’s director of women’s affairs is working hard to ensure local women receive adequate health care, especially during child birth. March 29, the director worked with the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team to create a class offering birth attendant training to women throughout the province.
The problem she’s facing is funding. “I have a list of all the students I want to train, but there is no salary for the teachers and no equipment for the students to use,” she said. “Nobody’s going to work in Afghanistan for free. The students are ready; the instructors are ready, but I can’t promise them material or pay.”
The director’s goal is to train between 50 and 60 women, who can return to their districts or villages and train other women in hopes of reducing women and child birth mortality rates. Every day, up to four women die during child birth, she said. The birth attendant class for women would refocus efforts within the province.
“I don’t want to look at any projects we’ve started in the past,” she said. “I want to select those women who will work for Zabul province; I want the women that I choose to go to the villages and work for my people. I want them to learn current, modern skills. There are a lot of differences between medicine now and in the past.”
The director plans to meet with Zabul Governor Delbar Jan Arman and she also wants the local doctors from Qalat Provincial Hospital to speak with the governor about the importance of the class.
The Zabul PRT here is trying to find funding and equipment to assist.
“We’re working with the director of women’s affairs to get a birth attendant class started,” said Capt. (Dr.) James Arnold, family physician for Zabul PRT. “They tried to get one off the ground a couple of times last year, but were unsuccessful. I think we’re a little bit further along this time because we have a woman who’s very proactive and works for the governor.”
The plan is to create a six to eight week course on basic birth attendant skills.
“Rahima seems very active and willing to talk to me and my female medic, so that will help a lot,” he said. “We have a lot of supplies to get a class started for about 20 people, but she wants to do a much bigger program. We’ll sit down with her, figure out the cost, and find out how we can best help her.”
The mission of the Zabul PRT is to conduct civil-military operations in Zabul Province to extend the reach and legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan by promoting good governance and justice, enabling an effective Afghan security force through training and mentorship, and facilitating reconstruction, development and economic growth by developing projects on the leading edge of the Afghan National Development Strategy.