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Women’s health in rural Afghanistan to benefit from new contribution from Canada and Belgium

© UNICEF Afghanistan/Edward Carwardine
Medical supplies funded by the Canadian development agency CIDA and transported to Kabul by the Belgian Government are loaded onto a truck at Kabul International Airport. The supplies, costing US$32,000, are destined for the newly refurbished maternity ho

KABUL, Afghanistan, 20 May 2004—Some 85,000 women from the rural Afghan province of Bamyan will benefit from improved health care, thanks to new supplies provided by UNICEF with the support of the governments of Canada and Belgium.

The maternity ward of Bamyan Hospital will receive hospital equipment, obstetric kits, midwifery kits and medicines as part of a total of US$ 32,000 of supplies funded by the Canadian development agency CIDA. The supplies will meet the needs of the Bamyan population in emergency obstetric care for one year.

The supplies arrived in Afghanistan on board an aircraft provided by the Belgian government and were handed over to UNICEF by representatives of the Canadian and Belgian governments, including the Belgian Prime Minister, on 20 May. The handover ceremony took place at at the Kabul International Airport.

Visiting hospitals in need

Belgian National Committee for UNICEF Director Christian Wiener and National Committee President Marc Van Boven joined the government delegation, and visited the UNICEF-supported Malalai Maternity Hospital in Kabul to see progress made over the last two years in infrastructure and training opportunities.

The hospital deals with some 200 cases per day, making it the largest and busiest maternity hospital in Afghanistan. UNICEF and partners have supported provision of equipment and training to the hospital staff, making it the first Centre of Excellence in Maternal Health in the country.

Afghanistan has one of the worst maternal mortality ratios in the world; recent studies have estimated that one woman dies every twenty minutes in the most rural parts of the country due to complications in childbirth and pregnancy.

Major causes of such deaths include lack of local facilities and equipment that can help support women experiencing difficulties. UNICEF aims to ensure that every province in Afghanistan has a fully functioning obstetric care centre by the end of 2004; UNICEF is also supporting training for health staff at national and community level.

© UNICEF Afghanistan/Edward Carwardine
Belgian National Committee for UNICEF Director Christian Wiener (left) and National Committee President Marc Van Boven join a Dari language class in a UNICEF provided school tent at Rahman Meena High School in west Kabul, which accomodates 4,565 pupils an

UNICEF continues to support Afghan schoolchildren

In addition to touring the hospital, the Belgian National Committee team visited Rahman Meena High School in west Kabul. The school accomodates 4,565 pupils and 137 teachers in both the school building and UNICEF-provided tent classrooms. Mr. Wiener and Mr. Marc Van Boven spent time with students during a Dari language class taught underneath a UNICEF-provided tent classroom.

In 2003 the government of Belgium provided funds for the education sector in Afghanistan through UNICEF, while Canada has been a generous supporter of health and nutritional programmes, contributing some US$ 3.1 million to UNICEF’s work in Afghanistan in 2003.



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