Under Taliban rule, Afghan midwives pledge to assist mothers and babies.


Under Taliban rule, Afghan midwives pledge to assist mothers and babies.

Teachers at an Afghan midwifery college in a Taliban stronghold have avoided gunfire through their office windows and witnessed the bombing of their last training center.

They persisted in their efforts, however, for the sake of the mothers and babies in their rural community.

Now that Islamist hardliners have taken control of Afghanistan, the teachers are pleading with the new administration to allow them to continue working in peace.

“I do my profession out of a sense of humanitarianism and patriotism, and because I feel compelled to help my community and society’s most oppressed members: women and children,” instructor Shafiqa Bironi told AFP.

“Our current demand is that the Taliban establish a secure and open area for women to support other women,” the 52-year-old added.

Because of the turmoil and the coronavirus outbreak, the Community Midwifery Education School in Maidan Shar, the capital of central Wardak province, has 25 students who will graduate in May 2022 following a stop-start two-year curriculum.

During intense combat between Taliban and former government forces, the school was occasionally caught in the crossfire, causing teachers and pupils to hide behind steel doors.

“It was a lot of effort,” said Khatool Fazly, the course director, whose office walls are still riddled with gunshot holes. “Battles were fought on a daily basis.” An explosion targeted a prison next door that housed Taliban members in 2013, utterly destroying the former school site.

Many women and girls have been effectively disenfranchised from education and work by the Taliban, who ruled from 1996 to 2001. Some healthcare professionals who were invited to return have been too terrified to do so.

The Taliban began seizing government-controlled districts in Wardak province in May, before taking control of the entire country in mid-August.

For the time being, the new rulers have not imposed any new restrictions that would affect the midwifery college’s operations.

Local Taliban loyalists’ wives and children, according to Fazly, are among those who rely on its services.

The midwives’ biggest problem, like that of many other healthcare professionals in Afghanistan, is that they haven’t received their salaries in four months due to the country’s broken financial system.

Over the last 15 years, significant progress has been accomplished, thanks in part to international relief organizations that have supported healthcare facilities and training programs like the one in Maidan Shar.

However, Afghanistan continues to have one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates, with thousands of Afghan women dying every year. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.


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