In Afghanistan the data collection for the SOWMy report started with a workshop on 25th December 2013 involving a number of stakeholders such as the Ministry of Public Health, Jhpiego, the UNFPA country office and the Midwives Association of Afghanistan (AMA). The second workshop was organized on 28th January 2014 and hosted by AMA in their offices in the capital, Kabul. The midwives association was able to secure funding from Health Policy Project (HPP) and United Nation Populations Fund (UNFPA) to provide lunch and refreshments for the approximately 30 participants. Participants came from the Ministry of Public Health, UNFPA, the National Midwifery and Nursing Education Accreditation Board , Jhpiego, Cordaid, HPP, educational institutions that implement midwifery education and other stakeholders. Apart from active participation in the workshops, AMA was also involved in data collection from the various authorities while filling different phases of the data collection process.
The workshop provided the opportunity to conduct some group work on the collected data and exchange opinions about it. “It was for us very important to demonstrate our professionalism and we made an extra effort to have a very formal event”, says AMA Executive Director Mursal Musawi. It was for this reason that AMA printed a banner with the SOWMy 2014 logo as well as all the partner logos on it. Details of the discussion cannot be revealed at this point as they will be part of the report, however one comment took the midwives of the Afghan Association by surprise. It was when the Ministry of Public Health wanted to distinguish between midwives working in hospitals and midwives working in the communities. While AMA has been advocating for years to recognize midwives as one cadre, independent of the educational path, the distinction is still perceived and defined. However, the difference in education is mainly reflected in the title as well as the place of work, but not in the content of the curriculum. “Both pathways offer the same education and the same skills”, explains Fatima Gohar, an Independent Consultant and Adviser to AMA. It is for this reason that AMA has always spoken of one cadre and does not want to discriminate one title.
After the global launch of SOWMy at the ICM Congress in Prague, the Afghan Midwives Association plans to have a launch in the capital as well as launches in the 34 provinces. Drawing from the experience from SOWMy 2011, AMA is planning to have round-table discussions for the national launch as well as radio interviews and coverage through other media channels. For the provincial launches, AMA plans to involve midwives by recognizing them for their excellence in midwifery. “We will also recognize midwives that have made a special contribution to safe motherhood”, says Mursal. AMA emphasizes the importance of this report as a highly valuable advocacy tool: “It has really helped us to highlight the need for midwives in our country”, says Fatima. She hopes that SOWMy 2014 will strongly support the ongoing work the midwives of Afghanistan have been doing, especially in the pillar of regulation, where most action is needed. “We are eager to see our contribution in the new edition of SOWMy and are looking forward to using this important tool for our advocacy”, states Mursal.