UN Population Fund dispatches relief aid to help women in Afghanistan
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today announced the start of an airlift operation designed to provide urgently needed assistance to women and girls in Afghanistan.
The first two of four cargo jets carrying equipment and supplies for three maternity hospitals and two schools for women and girls arrived in Kabul on Saturday, according to UNFPA. Another flight is due to land tomorrow; while a fourth shipment will arrive in two weeks.
The operation is the latest in UNFPA's ongoing efforts to support the country's interim administration in saving lives and improving the reproductive health of Afghan women. The campaign aims primarily to increase women's access to reproductive health care and reduce the alarmingly high rate of maternal mortality - now standing at 1,700 deaths per 100,000 births.
The airlift, which originated in Copenhagen, followed a UNFPA assessment of conditions at the Rabia Balkhi Women's Hospital, the Malalai Maternity Hospital and the Khair Khana 52-Bed Hospital. The Fund is providing $500,000 worth of lifesaving equipment and medical supplies - including operating tables, autoclaves, incubators and anaesthesia machines as well as two ambulances - to those three facilities, which are badly in need of aid.
UNFPA is also rebuilding a vocational school for women and a girls' school while supporting the reconstruction and refurbishment of an office building for the Minister of Women's Affairs. Both are due to open later this month.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) today said that it was seeking over $60 million - as part of a larger UN interagency appeal - to support the Afghan Ministry of Health. "Developing a functional health care system must be a top priority in the reconstruction of Afghanistan," said Dr. Mohammed Jama, WHO Regional Coordinator for the Afghanistan crisis. "As long as hundreds of thousands of Afghans continue to die from preventable diseases, a stable future for the country cannot be guaranteed."