Kabul, Afghanistan: Every year, 23,000 Afghan mothers die in childbirth. What should be one of life's most joyous events instead turns tragic, when one in six women die annually during labor. Countless numbers of children die with them. Even more staggering is that over half of all deaths among Afghan women between the ages of 15 and 49 are a direct result of pregnancy and childbirth.

Mothers and children waiting at the clinic. In Kasai Province. {Photo by Berengere de Negri, AED}Photo by Berengere de Negri, AED

When Mama Yvette, a pregnant woman in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), went into labor, she was forced to walk alone through the night in order to reach the Kabongo maternity clinic. She gave birth to quadruplets the next morning. Congolese women like Mama Yvette need better, more accessible care to ensure the well-being of their families. The Advance Africa project strives to make quality FP/RH services available when and where families need them most.In the DR Congo, being a mother is not easy.

The available pool of skilled health workers has been decimated in many developing countries due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Work overload, declining morale, and weak management systems all contribute to this human resource crisis. Considering the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, health facilities are now striving to incorporate HIV/AIDS-related services. Unfortunately, without an adequate number of trained health workers to administer HIV tests and to provide AIDS treatment, care, and counseling, their results will be minimized.