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IRIN, August 24, 2008

Sharifa, “If we had roads, cars and clinics in our village… my baby would not have died”

Afghanistan has the worst maternal mortality rate in the world with 1,600 deaths for every 100,000 live births

Sharifa, 23, was banded on a wooden ladder and taken to a hospital in Faizabad, the provincial capital of Badakhshan Province, northeastern Afghanistan, where she gave birth to a stillborn child and was told that she would never have children again.

Afghan mother in DaikundiAn Afghan mother with her twin daughters in Daikundi Province (Photo: Masoud Popalzai/IRIN). Early marriages contribute to high infant mortality rates; 165 in every 1,000 infants die before their first birthday, according to UNICEF.

After Sierra Leone, Afghanistan has the worst maternal mortality rate in the world with 1,600 deaths for every 100,000 live births (at least 24,000 deaths annually), according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Badakhshan has the worst infant and maternal mortality rates in the country.

Sharifa told IRIN about the pain she suffered on her way to Faizabad hospital:

"It was my fourth pregnancy but I felt more pain than before. I had delivered my other three children at home and I was expecting to do the same for the fourth.

"But the pain was terrible this time and then I found out that one of my baby's hands had come out of my body! I was in extreme pain after that.

"There is no doctor or clinic in our village [in Yamgan District, about 200km from Faizabad] so my family decided to take me to a clinic in Jurm [District].

"There is no road or car in our area so they wanted to take me by donkey. I couldn't sit on the donkey because my baby's hand was hanging out of me.

"Then I was banded tightly to a wooden ladder and men carried me on their shoulders to the clinic [in Jurm] where doctors said I should be taken to Faizabad hospital.

"In Jurm my husband rented a car to drive us to Faizabad. I don't remember how long we travelled until we reached Faizabad but I remember I was crying out in pain for hours all the way and my face was covered with mud because my tears mixed with road dust as we were driving.

"I fainted before I was brought into Faizabad hospital and when was I resuscitated I was told the baby had already died. It was a boy - a handsome boy - I was told.

"Doctors told me that I’ll never be pregnant again.

"If we had roads, cars and clinics in our village, I would not have suffered that pain and my baby would not have died."

Category: Women, Children, Poverty - Views: 15691