The birth of a baby is meant to be a time of joy and excitement, but for many women living in Afghanistan it’s a time of great uncertainty and risk. Here, one in eight mothers die while giving birth, usually in their homes and often in remote areas. In the lead up to the birth, only 16% of women have access to a trained health care practitioner.
The Birth Life Saving Skills (BLiSS) program, developed by TEAR’s partner Operation Mercy, is helping to improve these statistics, and make a real difference in the lives of mothers and babies in Afghanistan. BLiSS is a health education program that trains community members, irrespective of literacy level, in basic life-saving skills related to pregnancy, birth and newborn care. It helps both women and men in the community to recognise common maternal and child health issues and take action to help give both mums and babies a greater chance of survival.
For several years now, TEAR has been funding three of our partners in Afghanistan – Operation Mercy, Serve and International Assistance Mission (IAM) – to deliver the BLiSS program to the communities they are working with. The program has become an integral part of our partners’ projects and there are many stories of hope and life that have emerged as a result of this training.
For several years now, TEAR has been funding three of our partners in Afghanistan – Operation Mercy, Serve and International Assistance Mission (IAM) – to deliver the BLiSS program to the communities they are working with.
Simple things, like ensuring a safe, clean birthing space or identifying risks in pregnancy that enable women to get access to medical care earlier, make an enormous difference. IAM project staff shared a story of hope that is one among many of a small life that was saved because of the course:
“In one of the villages a baby boy was born but was not breathing. Some of the family members immediately declared the baby dead and prepared to bury him, but a woman that had been at our BLiSS course began to clean out the baby’s mouth, massage him on the back and give small breaths into his mouth (techniques she had learnt in BLiSS). Suddenly the baby coughed and began crying, and everyone was amazed.”
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