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Abbott Fund Provides Vital Medical Care to Afghan Women

Despite the outpouring of support from health organizations across the globe, Afghanistan continues to suffer a major heath crisis. According to UNICEF, about 70 pregnant women die each day in Afghanistan, often during childbirth. A quarter of those children who survive birth do not live beyond their fifth birthday. The infant mortality rate was 165 per 1,000 in 2004, in which only 14 percent of Afghan women have access to skilled medical assistance during childbirth. The Afghan Health Ministry has declared that Afghanistan suffers from the second-highest maternal death rate in the world at 1,900 deaths for every 100,000 live births. The Ministry also noted that in some areas of Afghanistan, the maternal death rates are as high as 6,000 per 100,000 women. Many of these deaths could be prevented with the assistance of midwives and basic medical care.  

The Abbott Fund is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to discovering new medicines, new technologies and new ways to manage health. Guided by the principle of global citizenship and a commitment to humanitarian causes, the Abbott Fund has invested in some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, including Afghan women.

Recently, the Abbott Fund partners with Direct Relief International and the Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL) to reverse the country’s high maternal mortality rate and increase the overall survival and health of children. The AIL has three clinics serving mostly the rural areas of Afghanistan, two in the Herat province and one in Kabul,  all of which are staffed and operated by women.

Since the partnership between Abbott and AIL began in November 2005, incredible progress has been made. Nearly 22,000 women have received reproductive health services and nearly 58,000 patients have received vaccinations. 125,803 patients have been treated and 103,182 women have attended health education classes, while $1.5 million of medicine has been distributed to Afghan clinics.

In Kabul, 19 of 35 midwives in training graduated and most are employed in clinics and hospitals with many assisting in surgery daily. In 2006, the Abbott fund awarded a second grant to AIL to train an additional 25 midwives/nurses in Kabul and Herat. Through projects like these, numerous health organizations are helping Afghan women to help themselves, with the goal of significantly lowering Afghanistan’s staggering maternal mortality rate.

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