Pregnant women and mothers threatened by Afghan violence – Times of India

DAND, AFHGANISTAN: Married to a a lot older man in Afghanistan, Wati – who thinks she is round 30 years outdated – is pregnant for a fifth time in 4 years, together with two miscarriages.
She has travelled by automobile to a authorities-run maternity clinic in a poor and rural village in southern Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban.
“I am afraid I will lose the baby again,” she tells AFP, a small bump exhibiting on her frail body.
Decades of battle and poverty have lengthy made it a wrestle for women to entry maternal healthcare in deeply patriarchal Afghanistan.
With the withdrawal of US-led overseas forces and escalating violence, there are indicators it might change into much more troublesome, with hundreds of women displaced, roads more and more too harmful to journey and worldwide support drying up.
At the clinic in Kandahar, women in burqas arrive accompanied by male family, who’re barred from coming into and wait exterior on the grass.
“I only have permission to leave the house to go to the doctor,” says Wati, clutching her medical notes in a plastic bag.
With 5 kids, fellow mom Khorma has additionally had two miscarriages and is anxious after discovering she is pregnant once more.
“I worked too hard at home,” she mentioned throughout a go to to the clinic in Dand district, earlier than the Taliban launched its newest sweeping offensive throughout the nation.
Forty-one % of Afghan women give start at house and 60 % haven’t any postnatal care, in accordance with a 2018 research by the KIT Royal Tropical Institute, based mostly within the Netherlands.
The statistics are worse within the south, the area worst affected by a long time of battle, with clinics usually too distant or requiring costly transport by harmful areas.
“Some families don’t care about pregnancies: the women give birth at home, start bleeding too much and go into shock,” says Husna, a midwife.
The worldwide group has poured billions of {dollars} in support into Afghanistan through the previous 20 years of US-led navy involvement, with the typical toddler mortality charge halved between 2003 and 2018, in accordance with the World Bank.
Although healthcare has improved – primarily in cities – insecurity and poverty nonetheless have a devastating influence.
The United Nations kids’s company Unicef recorded that 7,700 women died in childbirth in 2017 – twice the quantity of civilians killed in political violence that 12 months.
The drawdown of US and NATO troops has accompanied a slashing of overseas support, which Human Rights Watch says has already delivered a “life-threatening” influence on women and women.
In the dusty village of Qasem Pul, midwife Najia goes home-to-home, monitoring women by their pregnancies.
“Some families don’t let women go to clinics. Sometimes men don’t even let me in,” she says.
Najia meets with Kela within the courtyard of her house, a bit boy resting in her lap, his face screwed in ache.
“I want to start family planning,” she says, after realising she was 5 months pregnant with a sixth youngster.
“I have economic problems and I cannot take care of all my children. We don’t even have money for soap.”
Crucially, she has the approval of her husband.
In a cell clinic arrange in a village on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand province, midwife Qandi Gul is inspecting women and kids – many displaced by the battle.
“Most of them are sick. The families don’t take good care of women,” she says.
Patients waited with their sick kids within the courtyard – all with agonising tales of miscarriages, or neighbours who died giving start.
“My child died in Marja because I did not have access to a clinic or a midwife,” says 20-12 months-outdated Farzana, who fled her Taliban-held hometown. “Many children died.”
The scenario in Helmand province “is really critical”, Gul later advised AFP over the cellphone, because the Taliban press on with a sweeping offensive.
“All the people are being affected.”
Desperate mothers are nonetheless ready to take monumental dangers to entry healthcare.
Shazia, married at 10 and now a mom of three at 18, advised AFP that whereas residing underneath Taliban rule she needed to stroll for hours to succeed in a clinic – and was typically blocked by the militants.
“It was very dangerous. Three women died on the way,” says Shazia, now resettled in authorities-managed Lashkar Gah.
At a hospital within the metropolis for critically malnourished kids, run by French humanitarian group Action Against Hunger, Rozia had arrived from a Taliban-held village.
Her seven-month-outdated boy Bilal, born prematurely with a cleft lip, suffers from pneumonia and acute malnutrition.
“I was very scared of the fighting,” she advised AFP, however braved the journey after the well being of her son deteriorated.
She has already misplaced one youngster, additionally born prematurely, after the hospital the place she delivered requested her to go away as a result of of an absence of sources.
Her youngster died three days later.
“No one could help me,” she says.

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