TV Crew Covers HCI Afghanistan Project in Malalai Hospital Maternity Ward

An Australian TV station recently featured a story on maternal and neonatal mortality at Malalai Hospital, which has one of Kabul’s busiest maternity wards, with 25,000 deliveries per year.  URC’s USAID Health Care Improvement Project (HCI) is working with Malalai Hospital to improve management of the leading birth complications for both mothers and babies, and improve monitoring and care after birth. 

The story focused on how delivery has become safer for mothers and newborns due to many improvements at hospitals in Afghanistan, including implementation of the Helping Babies Breathe initiative (HBB). Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) is an education course that trains providers how to revive babies who have difficulty breathing after birth for resource-limited settings. Dr. Najmul Sama reports, “Our aim is for the baby to receive the oxygen in the first minute of life, which is called the golden minute.” HBB recommends availability of at least one HBB-trained Skilled Birth Attendant (SBA) during each delivery. Malalai Hospital is centrally located in Kabul and has a majority female staff. The hospital also serves as a referral center for complicated cases from other provinces in Afghanistan. 

Though Afghanistan has seen many developments in health services in the last few years, it remains the most dangerous country in the world for a woman to give birth and for newborns to survive delivery. For every 1,000 live births, 50 babies will die before they reach one month of age. One in eleven Afghan women will die in childbirth. 

HCI leads the implementation of the Helping Babies Breathe curriculum in Afghanistan. Since September 2010, HCI has trained 450 providers in eight of 34 provinces on essential newborn care and resuscitation using the HBB curriculum. Failure to breathe at birth causes 23% of all newborn deaths in Afghanistan, which is the second highest cause of newborn deaths after infections such as pneumonia and sepsis. HBB promotes skilled attendance at birth, assessing every baby, temperature support, stimulation to breathe, and assisted ventilation as needed, all within "The Golden Minute" after birth. With support from HCI and the USAID Basic Health Services project, the Ministry of Public Health is spreading HBB trainings throughout the country and integrating HBB into the pre-service curriculums for nursing and midwifery schools and in-service education. 

In Afghanistan, HCI focuses on quality improvement in maternal and neonatal health and post-partum family planning. The project has also worked to improve medical records at maternity hospital, and recently supported the Ministry of Public Health to design and launch a National Strategy for Improving Quality in Health Care. 

HCI is a USAID-funded project that supports countries in improving the quality and impact of health services. The project assists national and local programs to scale up evidence-based interventions and improve outcomes in child health, maternal and newborn care, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and reproductive health. Helping Babies Breathe is supported by USAID, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Laerdal Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Saving Newborn Lives, and the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil, Director of Malalai Maternity Hospital, reports that the hospital delivers 80-100 babies per day with 20-30 emergency c-sections.
Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil, Director of Malalai Maternity Hospital, reports that the hospital delivers 80-100 babies per day with 20-30 emergency c-sections.
January 18, 2012
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