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Paktika: No female doctors amid high mother-child mortality rate


Paktika: No female doctors amid high mother-child mortality rate

Oct 16, 2017 - 01:43

SHARAN (Pajhwok): Thirteen women died during childbirth in southeastern Paktika province last year, officials say, while residents say dozens of women die every year during childbirth due to lack of female doctors and cultural restrictions.

Residents say they have several times complained about the mentioned problems to the authorities, but no action could be taken for their solution.

Zainab, a resident of Sharan, the capital, told Pajhwok Afghan News that health was not the only sector the government had ignored in the province.

She said only one female health professional was available on provincial level and some female workers used experience and had not received formal education.

“I am a high school graduate only, but I work in the health sector, many other girls like me have not received education in this field but they work in health using their practical expertise,” she said.

Besides the shortage of female health doctors, another big problem she cited was bad traditions restricting women from visiting hospitals.

“They consider it a shame to take a female family member to hospital, many women die or develop complications when they are not taken to hospital,” she said. Zainab said up to 10 women died each month during childbirth in each district of the province.

Amir Mohammad, head of Wazir Tribe Council in Barmal district, said the only health clinic in the district was run by nurses. “Workers of the clinic are nonprofessional and this lack of professionalism is behind the death of up to 10 women each year,” he said.

He said women were brought to Sharan, the provincial capital, from villages after their condition became serious while some women lost their lives on the way. “Around 10 women lose lives during childbirth every month in this district if I am not wrong,” he said.

Azamat Katawazi, a civil society activist from Khairkot district,  said averagely 10 women died on monthly basis from maternity related complication in each Khairkot, Khushamand, Janikhel, Warmami, Tirwa and Waza Khwa districts.

“Lack of access to healthcare centers, economic problems and bad road conditions are reasons mothers lose lives,” he said.

He said some mothers were attended by elderly women as part of tradition risking the life of mother or child.

Yaqob Khan, coordinator of civil society institutes in Paktika, said amid lack of health facilities poor quality medicines were sold in the province. “These drugs are smuggled to Paktika, people don’t know about their quality and there is no one to control it,” he said.

He also confirmed women in Sharan and districts had no access to healthcare centers for child delivery. “If an accurate survey is conducted, it would be found that 10 women lose lives each month,” he said.

Akhtar Mohammad, a resident of Khushamand district, recalled her wife’s demise during child delivery. “It was 8pm when my wife started labor pain, there was no clinic in the district, the road to Sharan was also very insecure.”

“I had no option but to take her wife to an elderly woman in the village who was an expert. I waited for hours outside and finally received the bad message that both my wife and child had died,” he recounted.

Mohammad said now he faced many issues looking after his four children in the absence of their mother. “I do the duty of a father and mother.”  He also said more than 10 women died during childbirths in the district every month.

Paktika women’s affairs director, Bibi Hawa Khoshiwal, said in addition to childbirth related issues, women in the province endured many other hardships.

She didn’t mention the issues: “Doctors hailing from other provinces refuse to work here, they cite insecurity and lack of proper education environment for their children as reasons.” She also confirmed the child and mother incidents during labor in the province.

However, Paktika public health director, Dr. Wali Gul Kharoti, vehemently rejected the claim that up to 10 women died every month in each district.

He said his department had employed midwives in many districts and as a result, mother-child mortality rates had declines, but provided no figures, saying the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) had information in this regard.

According to MoPH, as many as 347 women died of pregnancy or childbirth related causes nationwide last year.

On the other hand, the Organization for Health Promotion & Management (OHPM) in-charge, Abdul Salam Bawarzai, said only 13 women died during childbirth in Paktika last year.

This year, he said, six women had so far died of pregnancy in Paktika. The OHPM works in the sector of child and mother’s health in the province.

A reliable source at the provincial public health department said about seven to nine women breathed their last during deliveries in each and every district of the province each month

“Neither organizations, nor officials provide proper information in this regard because they fear losing jobs.”

It’s pertinent to mention here that Paktika has 18 districts and 44 government and nine private health centres are currently operational in the province.