Facility offers lifesaving, specialized care for women and newborns Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has opened a new maternity hospital in the eastern province of Khost in Afghanistan, facilities which will provide pregnant women in the region with desperately needed high-quality healthcare. Decades of conflict have left Afghanistan with maternal and child mortality rates among the highest in the world. Most women, especially in rural areas, must resort to giving birth without skilled assistance and in unhealthy conditions, which puts their own lives and those of their children at significant risk. Khost is one of Afghanistan’s most volatile provinces, where national and international military forces have engaged in intense fighting with armed opposition groups in recent years. The conflict has affected the ability for women to access adequate maternal healthcare.
“The new hospital will be able to help hundreds of women every month make safe deliveries and care for their newborn children by offering specialized care,” says Hilde Cortier, medical director of the new MSF facility. The 56-bed maternity hospital will be the first specialized centre of its kind in the region. It has a delivery room that offers obstetric care for normal and complicated deliveries and an operating theatre for emergency obstetric surgery. Pregnant women who are ill will be hospitalized in the wards, where women will also be admitted after giving birth or undergoing surgery. There is a neonatal ward for newborns requiring specialized care. MSF’s international and Afghan staff will work together in the hospital. Only female doctors will tend to the patients. All healthcare services and medicines will be free of charge. As in all MSF hospitals in Afghanistan, a strict no-weapons policy will be enforced to ensure patient safety and security. MSF teams also work in Ahmad Shah Baba Hospital in eastern Kabul and Boost Hospital in Lashkargah, Helmand Province. The organization also runs a trauma centre in Kunduz, providing lifesaving surgical care to people in northern Afghanistan. In all locations, MSF provides free-of-charge medical care and works in all wards of the hospitals. MSF relies solely on private donations for its work in Afghanistan and does not accept any government funding.