In the next three months, 648 are in their last trimester or expected to give birth, the United Nations Population Fund said.

Doctors in Afghanistan’s eastern province said the female victims of the country’s most destructive earthquake, which killed at least 1,000 people, are in urgent need of health care.

“We are lacking medicines or reproductive health services to help pregnant women who might experience some form of life-threatening complications during delivery if they don’t receive medical aid,” Muhammad Saleem Khalid in Paktia province, 61km (38 miles) from the epicentre of 5.9 magnitude earthquake, told TRT World. 

Khalid is a doctor at the 203 Mansoori Corps Hospital in Gardez, the capital of Paktia province. Last week’s earthquake struck near Khost, a province bordering Pakistan leaving 2,000 injured and 10,000 homes destroyed. Neighbouring provinces Paktia and Paktika were also hit.

“Thousands of Afghans have lost everything in the earthquake and pregnant women living in tents who don't have access to healthcare are at particular risk.” 

Even prior to the earthquake, in 2021, more than 80 percent of the country's health care facilities were not operating normally because of a lack of funding and a shortage of medical staff and supplies.

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Some 638 women die per 100,000 live births. Fewer than 60 percent of births are overseen by skilled health professionals.

Out of 1,900 women who are currently pregnant, 648 women are in their last trimester or expected to give birth in the next three months. 

“The reproductive age women, particularly the pregnant women, are in more need of healthcare services, the high number of injuries and low capacity of existing health facilities created more demand,” Zaeem Abdul Rahman, media and communications analyst at the United Nations Population Fund Afghanistan told TRT World

“But our mobile health teams and additional midwives deployed in the area are focusing on the provision of maternal, reproductive and child health services.”

The UNFPA initially distributed 10 Clean Delivery Kits to benefit around 2,000 pregnant women to avoid deadly infections. 

Of the pregnant women, 648 are in their last trimester or expected to give birth in the next three months
Of the pregnant women, 648 are in their last trimester or expected to give birth in the next three months (ALI KHARA / Reuters)

The Clean Delivery Kits contain essential supplies such as a plastic sheet, a blanket, sterile gloves, soap, a razor blade, and an umbilical cord tie.

Early this year, UNFPA appealed for $251.9 million in funding to respond to the reproductive health and psychosocial support needs of 9.2 million people. So far, UNFPA has received only 21 per cent of the appeal. 

Sanctions on Afghan government bodies and banks have cut off most direct assistance for the country already facing a humanitarian crisis.

Although the United Nations and several other countries have sent aid to the affected area, the deputy head of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), Mullah Noordden Turaby, told a news conference in Kabul on Monday that the ARCS had no place to store food and that cash would be more useful to survivors struggling to make ends meet.

Afghan authorities have called on international governments to roll back sanctions and lift the freeze on billions of dollars in central bank assets stashed in Western financial institutions.

Source: TRT World