Training for the future

After three decades of war, the health system in Afghanistan has largely collapsed. Medical care is catastrophic, especially in rural areas. As a result, the country suffers from the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Basically 80% of women could be saved as most complications such has high blood pressure and infections are easy to treat. But there simply is a lack of skilled workers. In this patriarchal country, obstetrics is generally only allowed to be carried out by female staff. However, since only a fraction of girls receive schooling and a vocational training, a massive shortage is inevitable. Therefore Cap Anamur trains Afghan women to be midwives and nurses.

The training programme started in 2009 with a midwifery course, which is now in its second year and very well established. During his project visit in Herat in January this year, Cap Anamur CEO Bernd Göken could reassure himself of the good practical training. “The students learn to manage a birth safely and independently”, says Bernd Göken. “This is an important training objective, since the women return to their medically underserved villages after their two-year training to make an important contribution with their knowledge”.

The second training block covers nursing. More specifically, 45 women are trained to be Community Health Nurses. After graduation they work in medical facilities in the countryside. What is special about this job is that next to medical care, the women also do educational work within their community. For example, they use the opportunity of full hospital waiting rooms to teach patients the importance of basic hygiene measures. Also part of the health education are prevention and vaccination.

By the way, after graduation, one student of each of the two departments will work in the hospital built by Cap Anamur. In January the facility in Shade was opened. Since then around 200 patients come every day. Most of them are treated as outpatients. For the more serious cases, the Comprehensive Health Center has an inpatient department with 12 beds.

The long-term goal of Cap Anamur’s training project is, to improve the quality of medical care in remote villages and at the outskirts. In this the province Herat is a forerunner. Before the start of our project, such training courses didn’t exist. But the concept has now successfully been adapted by four other provinces.

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Cap Anamur offers Afghan women a two-year, state-approved training as midwives and nurses. The participants learn theory and practice in teaching hospitals in the provincial capital Herat. Cap Anamur provides accommodation and board during the training. The students’ children are also taken care of: they can attend kindergarten or school. The students come from rural villages and return to their homes after graduation. The cost per training place is 3,200 Euro – a good investment in the future of Afghanistan.