Abbott Fund Program to Improve Maternal & Child Health in Afghanistan
According to the World Health Organization, Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, with 1,900 deaths per 100,000 live births. In addition, one in four Afghan children will not live to see their fifth birthday. To improve the lives of women and children in Afghanistan, Abbott and the Abbott Fund are partnering with the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and Direct Relief International to help reverse the country's high maternal mortality rate, and increase the survival and overall health of infants and children. The Abbott Fund has provided more than USD 500,000 in grants and assisted in coordinating USD 4 million in product donations from Abbott to support the work of AIL, founded by Nobel Prize nominee Sakena Yacoobi, a long-time advocate for women's rights in Afghanistan. Direct Relief International, a global humanitarian assistance organization, manages the distribution of Abbott's grants and product donations to AIL. With five clinics serving mostly rural areas in Afghanistan, AIL is staffed and operated by Afghan women. Abbott Fund support is focused on empowering Afghan women through the training of female nurses, midwives and health educators to provide skilled assistance during labor and delivery, as well as care for infants and children. The Abbott Fund also is supporting 5-day women's health workshops that have provided health education directly to more than 376,000 Afghan women since 2005. Abbott has donated products to improve maternal and child health, including rehydration solutions, antibiotics, multivitamins and nutritional supplements. Since the partnership began in November 2005, there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of healthy babies delivered at AIL's clinics. More than 600,000 women and children have received services, and 60 nurses/midwives have been trained, with most now employed in clinics and hospitals. The Abbott Fund is supporting the training of 25 additional women in 2010-2011.