Building starts on second maternity ward in Bamyan province
BAMYAN - People from the ancient city of Bamyan, the government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have joined together to build a new maternity ward in Bamyan’s provincial hospital.
Government officials, members of the local community and UN employees donated one day’s salary to help raise funds to buy the land where the new mother and baby unit was to be built.
“UNICEF promised to construct a new building for a maternity ward but we did not have any funds from the health ministry to purchase the land,” said Dr Shaheer, Bamyan’s public health director. “So we started to run a campaign to encourage the local community and government officials to contribute,” added Dr Shaheer.
Local communities’ contribution to infrastructure is an old Afghan tradition called “hashar” when community members work together to improve their local environment.
“UNICEF has now started the construction work and it will be completed in a few months,” said Dr Shaheer.
Despite the huge challenges Afghanistan is facing in the health sector, the country has made a remarkable recovery over the past few years. 85 percent of Afghanistan’s population now has access to a basic package of health services compared to 9 percent in 2003. Afghanistan also reached the Afghanistan Compact benchmark on infant and under-five mortality rates ahead of schedule which now saves 80,000 lives every year.
“All the relevant ministries have vital roles to play in improving health care. A healthy population needs a healthy environment, nutritional food, clean drinking water and education, without all these it is not possible to fight life threatening diseases in Afghanistan, so all the ministries have to do their job efficiently for a healthier Afghanistan,” says Dr Shaheer.
Around 35,000 patients are treated in the 45 health centres across Bamyan each month.
By Jaffar Rahim, UNAMA