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Project information

Reducing Afghan maternal deaths

One woman in eleven dies from pregnancy-related causes in Afghanistan which can be relatively easy prevented. Working with village women themselves, their husbands and the health service provider we are introducing means which will continue to prevent as many deaths as possible each year.


Charity information: HealthProm

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  • Need


    In rural Afghanistan maternal mortality was the highest in the world. Most rural maternal deaths are due to delay in deciding to make the journey from a remote village to the health centre when a woman goes into labour and the time it takes to get there. Newborn babies die from hypothermia. Before we started one in five children died before the age of 5. Most under-five deaths in summer are from drinking water and in winter from pneumonia. 65% of children are stunted UNICEF)


    The project will raise women’s and men’s awareness of specific risks of pregnancy and childbirth and enable them to detect complications and take action at an early stage. Outreach antenatal care by midwives will also help detect problems and midwives will draw up birth plans with women and their husbands. Heads of village women’s groups can phone for emergency transport. Provision of clean water and fruit and nut trees and vegetable gardens will reduce malnutrition.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    We aim to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in two districts of Balkh Province.


    » We will provide health education to women and men, through village self-help groups, to reduce risks before and during birth.
    » We will provide outreach by midwives to villages to provide antenatal and postnatal care and birth planning.
    » We will provide emergency transport for women with complications of labour to health centres or hospital.
    » To improve access we will repair sections of village roads destroyed by rains.

    What success will look like

    From reports of village women's groups at monthly meetings we record births and any deaths in villages against baseline data from village women for two years before project start.

    Aim 2

    We aim to reduce under-five mortality in the two districts.


    » We will work with villagers to provide sources of clean water to reduce dysentery and deaths from dehydration.
    » We work with villagers to enable them to plant fruit and nut trees and vegetable gardens to reduce malnutrition.
    » We will ensure the Community Health Workers in each of 60 villages are supplied and supported to provide basic health care there.

    What success will look like

    As above. We triangulate above reports with data from volunteer village Community Health Workers. We aim to ensure that lessons are learned from every death or near miss.

  • Impact


    When women and men find that deaths are not simply the will of Allah, but with basic knowledge and skills and by basic, low-cost measures they can usually be prevented, they are empowered to make changes to improve their lot. This knowledge will remain. Women discover that they have rights, which they had hitherto not conceived of. The success of the project will be demonstrated by continued reduction in mortality.


    The greatest risk is insurgency and associated lawlessness. Our greatest protection is the full support of villagers. We also receive daily bulletins on security. The team does not travel at night and when possible avoids travel at regular times. There is some risk that after project end the owners of vehicles who provide emergency transport may increase their charges or midwives may be unwilling to continue antenatal and postnatal care in villages without additional payment.


    We will report to donors halfway through the funding period and on termination, showing how their donations have been spent. Reports will include photographic evidence.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £133,911

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      Amount Heading Description
      £59,582 Salaries, per diems and travel Project and contracted staff salaries, international travel and local transportation
      £18,650 Equipment running costs Fuel and vehicle maintenance
      £15,945 Capital and service costs Medical equipment, office furnishings and equipment, rent and other bills, training and education
      £22,560 Direct provision for villagers Materials, supplies, medicine and non-material incentives for villagers
      £17,174 Other costs Contingency, accounting and administration

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Guernsey £9,000 Guaranteed
    Karl Mayer Foundation £6,581 Guaranteed
    Britten Trust £23,760 Guaranteed
    T&J Meyer Foundation £10,000 Guaranteed
    Southall Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
    Other small donations £100 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Our current project to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Charkent District, Balkh Province, started in 2009 with the support of our partners, the Bakhtar Development Network. This is a remote and mountainous district in the North, difficult to reach with a very rough and barren terrain. We are the only organisation working in this district alongside our Afghan partner organisation CHA (Cooperation for Humanitarian Assistance).


    The project will benefit the population of the Balkh Province and will also serve as a model for future work in other regions. It has already produced positive outcomes. In the average time of operation of the project in the first 20 villages the number of maternal deaths has been reduced from an average of 6 per year to an average of 0.5. Stillbirths and newborn deaths have been reduced from an average of 18 per year in the first 20 villages to an average of 2.5.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    HealthProm is a UK-based charity, which has over 25 years’ experience of promoting the health and social care of women and children in countries of the Former Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Our track record to date shows strong results. In the 20 villages in which HealthProm delivered interventions, newborn deaths and stillbirths fell from 36 to 10 and maternal deaths fell from 12 to just 1. But much still remains to be done.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Fiona McLean

    Fiona is the Chief Executive at HealthProm.

Solutions to perinatal problems in Afghanistan