How community volunteers keep moms safe

Access to basic care, support from their families, and being able to make decisions about their own bodies are critical tools that are helping women in Afghanistan stay safe—backed by the support of their communities.

Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, more than 100 times greater than OECD countries.

Opportunities for Mothers and Infants Development Project worked in Afghanistan from 2012-2016 with $900,000 in support from Glaxo-Smith Klein. It reached 7,000 women directly and 21,000 people indirectly in 23 communities in Kabul city.

What have we accomplished?

  • Women have healthier pregnancies: women are 26% more likely to go to a pre-natal doctor’s visits, and health centers hosted 2.4 times more pre-natal visits for pregnant women.
  • Births are safer: women are 62% more likely to give birth in a health facility, and 11 times more likely to have a birth plan in place to reduce risk.
  • Women are able to make more decisions: 66% more women said they could make decisions about their pregnancy themselves, instead of having their mother-in-law or other family members make the decisions.
  • Kids are getting their shots: kids are 38% more likely to get the complete set of childhood vaccinations.
  • Women are more likely to space their pregnancies: women are 79% more likely to use modern contraception, and the unmet need for family planning was 2.6% among project participants, compared to 6% in the control group.

How did we get there?

  • Support health workers: the project worked with health centers to improve services and supported community health workers to visit pregnant women and help them prepare for healthy pregnancies and birth.
  • Connect women to health centers: Community Health Workers hosted education sessions on safe motherhood, infant care, and birth planning for more than 3,000 women. This helped women connect to health services and get ante-natal and post-natal care. Community midwives could provide care and refer women to emergency services when needed.
  • Focus on community support: the project helped set up community support groups to work with women and help them get the services they need. This included helping build awareness of danger signs for birth complications, and supporting women to plan to give birth in health centers.

Want to learn more?

Read the final evaluation.