A graduate of the Nurse Midwife Training Program receives a gift package from one of the school’s instructors after a ceremony in the Gardez district of eastern Afghanistan’s Paktya province, Oct 3. Each of the 24 graduates received a similar gift package, including blankets, thermometers and stethoscopes to them started in their new career. Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world; approximately16 out of 1,000 new mothers die from birthing complications, The Paktya Department of Health, using programs such as the midwife training, aims to reduce the provincial rate by 50 percent. (Photo by 1st Lt. Lauren Johnson, Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan –Twenty-four Afghan women were certified to deliver babies as they graduated from the Nurse Midwife Training Program during a ceremony in Gardez district, Oct. 3.
The ceremony marked the completion of the third iteration of the training program, which equips 24 students with basic midwifery skills to serve in Paktya’s developing maternity and women’s healthcare industry.
Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world; approximately16 out of 1,000 new mothers die from birthing complications, The Paktya Department of Health, using programs such as the midwife training, aims to reduce the provincial rate by 50 percent.
According to U.S. Air Force Maj Anita Chapel, Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team Medical Officer, who attended the ceremony, the training is expected to benefit Afghan women throughout the province.
“The females who graduated will return to their respective districts and provide the much needed care to the females in the villages,” said Chapel, who is deployed out of San Antonio.
During the ceremony, speeches were given by several distinguished guests, including Paktya’s Governor, Juma Khan Hamdard, and the Deputy Minister of Public Health, Dr. Nadera Hayat, who flew from Kabul for the occasion.
Dr. Hayat, speaking as both a mother and a government official, congratulated the students and thanked their parents for allowing them to participate in the training. She stressed that health services are inseparable from human rights, and that they go hand-in-hand with security.
The midwifery school employs five instructors and is funded by Ibn Sina. Tuition for the 18-month program is free to the students, who return to their home districts to provide community-level care. Similar programs have also been established in Zabul and Helmand provinces, and, in the last year, the number of midwives in Afghanistan has nearly quadrupled.
As part of the ongoing partnership with the Department of Public Health to address medical concerns throughout the area, the Paktya PRT attended the graduation ceremony for the Midwife Training School in Gardez.
“The Midwife Training Program is another excellent example of the Paktya government’s commitment to improving provincial healthcare, specifically healthcare initiatives for women,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Carlos Halcomb, Paktya PRT commander.
“These new graduates, besides bringing a much-needed skill to Paktya’s largely rural communities,” Halcomb added, “will inspire young women across the Province to take advantage of new opportunities and work to make a difference.”
Following the ceremony, each graduate received a gift package, including blankets, thermometers and stethoscopes to them started in their new career.
More photos here.