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Herat, 15 September 2015. - ‘Midwives for a better tomorrow' is the theme of the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA) Annual Congress, being celebrated today and tomorrow in the city of Herat. The Congress seeks to advocate for this essential profession and strengthen midwives' role in Afghanistan.

This is the 11th Congress that AMA organizes to discuss the way forward to improve maternal, newborn and child health care services in Afghanistan. The Acting President of AMA, Feroza Mushtari, and the Advisor to the International Confederation of Midwives, Pashtun Azfar, welcomed the participants to the event. This year, the Congress brings together 200 midwives to discuss new approaches to their work and share professional experiences.

"I know that your profession faces a lot of challenges," said Mohammad Asif Rahimi, Governor of Herat Province, during his opening remarks at the Congress. "Some of you live in the most remote areas of Afghanistan serving our communities and facing harsh living conditions. Despite these challenges, midwives love their job and they perform it with dedication. I thank you for this."

The First Lady, Rula Ghani, joined the Governor thanking midwives' commitment through a video message. She highlighted their role in reducing Afghanistan's maternal mortality and encouraged them to keep up with their work to help address the remaining challenges in the country.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2002 a lot of achievements have been made in the midwifery profession in Afghanistan. The number of midwives has increased from 437 to 4,600 and maternal mortality rate has decreased fourfold during the past 15 years. Still 1 in every 50 women dies from pregnancy-related complications every year.

Dr Najia Tariq, Deputy Minister of Public Health, also participated in the event, highlighting the achievements in the last decade. "Although we are living in challenging conditions security wise, we still have made remarkable improvements in Afghanistan's healthcare services," said Dr Tariq. "Today a midwife is present in 80 percent of the health facilities assisting deliveries and therefore helping reduce maternal deaths."

The AMA was established in 2005 with 80 members. Today the association has over 3,000 members across Afghanistan. Since its establishment UNFPA has provided financial and technical support to the association.

The organization of the AMA 11th Congress was supported financially by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and USAID.

About UNFPA:

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled.


For more information:

Massoma Jafari
Vice President, Afghan Midwives Association
Telephone: +93 796858875

Sahar Jahish
Media Relations, UNFPA 
Telephone: +93 729261392