REACH Ceremony Supports Programs to Save Women's Lives

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (OCTOBER 13, 2004) — On Oct. 13, REACH staff in Kabul gathered to promote international support for safe motherhood and reproductive health programs. The ceremony also marked the 10th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Programme of Action set forth by the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt.

The Preamble to the Cairo Conference 1994 Programme of Action states several goals and objectives that the REACH Program is working to help the Afghan Ministry of Health achieve. Among them are the reduction of infant, child, and maternal mortality and access for all to reproductive health services—the focus of the REACH Training and Education section and its Safe Motherhood unit.

REACH is also working toward two additional Programme of Action goals: education, especially for girls, and gender equity and equality. The REACH Program’s Learning for Life initiative is a health-based literacy program designed to bring young women to levels of literacy that will qualify them for training as community health workers and midwives, and empower these women as forces for change.

REACH Gender Specialist, Miho Sato, presided over the ceremony. Speaking to an audience of over 60 men and women, Dr. Mirwais Amiri, of REACH Safe Motherhood, vividly illustrated the urgent need for safe motherhood programs. He pointed out that between the beginning of the Ramazan fast and the festive Eid celebration that marks its close, 2500 Afghan women will perish from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Pashtoon Afzar, REACH Midwifery Education Manager, spoke of hope for the future: a $3.3 million REACH midwifery education grant is supporting training programs now underway that will produce 720 midwives with the skills needed to end this tragic loss of life.

Holding lighted candles, whose flames symbolized the desire that safe motherhood and reproductive health programs be supported throughout the world, the REACH staff observed a minute of silence in memory of those women who have lost their lives while bringing life into the world.