Availability and distribution of human resources for provision of comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care in Afghanistan: A cross-sectional study

Manizha Faqir, Partamin Zainullah, Hannah Tappis, Jaime Mungia, Sheena Currie, Young Mi Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: For over a decade, Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health and its international development partners have invested in strengthening the national health workforce and establishing a system of primary health care facilities and hospitals to reduce the high levels of maternal and child mortality that were documented shortly after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Significant progress has been made, but many challenges remain. The objective of this study is to assess the availability and distribution of human resources for round-the-clock comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care service provision in secure areas of Afghanistan in order to inform policy and program planning. Methods: A cross-sectional assessment was conducted from December 2009 to February 2010 at the 78 accessible facilities designated to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care in Afghanistan. The availability of staff on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week; involvement of staff in essential clinical functions; turnover rates; and vacancies were documented at each facility. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize results. Results: All facilities assessed had at least one midwife on staff, but most did not meet the minimum staffing requirements set in national guidelines. Given that all facilities assessed are considered referral centers for lower-level clinics, the lack of doctors at 5% of facilities, lack of anesthetists at 10% of facilities and lack of obstetrician/gynecologists at 51% of facilities raises serious concerns about the capacity of the health system to respond with lifesaving care for women with obstetric complications. Conclusions: While the government continues its efforts to increase the number of qualified female health professionals in Afghanistan after decades with little female education, innovative strategies are needed to facilitate deployment, skill-development and retention of female healthcare providers in underserved areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalConflict and Health
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Afghanistan
  • Emergency obstetric care
  • Health services
  • Human resources
  • Maternal health
  • Neonatal health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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