Wholistic Health for Mother and Baby (Reducing Maternal Mortality in Afghanistan)

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Wholistic Health for Mother and Baby (Reducing Maternal Mortality in Afghanistan)

Afghanistan
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Afghan Institute of Learning uses a multi-pronged approach of education and healthcare for pregnant Afghan women through health clinics, health education workshops, pre and post-natal care, and training: to nurses, midwives, CHWs-community health workers, and. rural TBAs- traditional birth attendants.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Afghanistan, 39% of children under age 5 are underweight, and over 50% of all Afghan children suffer from malnutrition. There are 1600 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. An estimated 26,000 Afghan women die each year while pregnant or giving birth. A shocking 78% of these deaths could be prevented with proper care.
About You
Organization:
Afghan Institute of Learning
Visit website
Section 1: About You
First Name

Sakena

Last Name

Yacoobi

Organization
Country
Are you an individual between the ages of 18 and 35 who would like to apply for a nine month Young Champions Program mentored by an Ashoka Fellow?

No

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Afghan Institute of Learning

Organization Phone

In U.S./: 313 278 5806

Organization Address

In US- c/.o CHI, P.O. Box 1058, Dearborn, MI 48121, USA

Organization Country

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Website URL
Innovation
What makes your idea unique?

There are many facets to the successful birth of a healthy baby and a surviving healthy mother. Many programs focus only on one area or address topics in only one forum. AIL addresses multiple areas at once- hygiene, family planning, reproductive and birth education, cultural issues, nutrition, delivery options, and post natal care of mother and child in a variety of venues. This is particularly important in Afghanistan because many women are illiterate and must learn by hearing about being a healthy mother and having a healthy baby; the more often their receive these important messages, the more likely it is that they will remember them and incorporate them in their daily lives. For those Afghan women who are literate, they also need the messages in multiple forums because they have little access to written material. Women receive messages every time they go to a clinic and every time they meet with Community Health Workers or AIL nurses or midwives in their villages. In AIL’s Women’s Learning Centers (WLCs), where women take literacy and income generation classes, every teacher, in every class, teaches about MCH issues. In all areas where AIL has programs, multi-day health workshops are offered to women and girls. With Afghanistan having the second highest mother and infant mortality rate in the world, we must address every area in every forum.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
What impact have you had?

Since 1995, AIL has given health education to 1.6 million Afghan women and children and provided health services to over 1 million patients. AIL has provided education, training and health services to over 7 million Afghans leading to a dramatic improvement of health to the women and children it has served. In every area where AIL has had a clinic offering health services and health education, the malnutrition rate has dropped and vaccinations and hygiene have increased dramatically because women have learned about proper nutrition and health care for their children and the importance of vaccinations in preventing disease. More and more women are coming to AIL clinics or other health facilities to deliver their babies. In 2009 in their clinics, AIL Staff delivered 304 babies and, of these, 300 were healthy and there were no maternal deaths.

Actions

AIL addresses multiple areas at once- hygiene, family planning, reproductive and birth education, cultural issues, nutrition, delivery options, and post natal care of mother and child in a variety of venues. This is particularly important in Afghanistan because women are illiterate and must learn by hearing about being a healthy mother and having a healthy baby; the more often they receive these important messages, the more likely they will remember and incorporate them in their daily lives. For literate Afghan women, they need the messages in multiple ways because they have little access to written material. Women receive messages every time they go to a clinic and every time they meet with Community Health Workers or AIL nurses or midwives in their villages. In AIL’s Women’s Learning Centers (WLCs), where women take literacy and income generation classes, every teacher, in every class, teaches about MCH issues. In all areas where AIL has programs, multi-day health workshops are offered to women and girls.

Results

In every area where AIL has offered health services and health education, the malnutrition rate has dropped and vaccinations and hygiene have increased dramatically because women have learned about proper nutrition and health care for their children and the importance of vaccinations in preventing disease. More and more women are coming to AIL clinics or other health facilities to deliver their babies. In 2009 in their clinics, AIL Staff delivered 304 babies and, of these, 300 were healthy and there were no maternal deaths.
With education, Afghan mothers understand their impact on their child’s health and survival. When food is nutritious and cooked properly, the home and children are kept clean, wastes are disposed of correctly, and small children are vaccinated, their children thrive. Expectant mothers learn what they can do to help their developing baby, and are more confident about the delivery of a healthy child with medical assistance.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

AIL now has 6 health clinics and 27 teams of Community Health Workers. AIL has built a gynecological hospital in Herat which is due to open in 2010. We would like to expand our services. The demand is overwhelming. Our goal is to open one additional health clinic in each of the next 3 years, and CHW programs in connection with each clinic. In addition, AIL plans to offer health education to 200 teachers each year and additional health workshops to 1000 adolescent girls and women each year.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

Our biggest challenge is funding. We have the funds to maintain our programs, but would need additional funds to expand. There are still many thousands of women who have no resources and are not being served.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

If yes, provide organization name.

Afghan Institute of Learning

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes

Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Working with the Afghan government is integral to the successful growth of our projects.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

Maintained and increased monetary support
Ongoing health training and education
Continued response to local community needs

The Story
What was the defining moment that you led to this innovation?

Understanding how 30+ years of war had shattered the Afghan family unit and lifestyle.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi is Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an Afghan women-led NGO she founded in 1995. Established to provide teacher training, education and health services to women and children, AIL now provides services to 350,000 women and children annually. Sakena’s vision of a healthier Afghanistan evolved after watching her mother give birth to 15 children, only to have 5 children survive. Under Sakena’s leadership AIL has established itself as a visionary organization which works at the grassroots level and empowers women and communities to bring education and health services to rural and poor urban girls and women as well as other disenfranchised Afghans. AIL was the first organization to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women in the 1990s. AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3000 girls in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. AIL was first to open Women’s Learning Centers for Afghan women—a concept now copied by many organizations throughout Afghanistan. Dr. Yacoobi has received multiple recognition-of-service awards in Afghanistan.

Sakena was among 1,000 women nominated to receive the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. Sakena has received honorary doctorates from the University of the Pacific and Loma Linda University for her work in human rights and for her distinguished contribution to society. Dr. Yacoobi is on the boards of Global Fund for Women and Creating Hope International and is an advisor to Women’s Learning Partnership and the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Email from Changemakers

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company