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Mid-May in Kabul June 1, 2006

Posted by Linda Barnes in Afghanistan, MCH in Community, Midwifery.



Dist 7 maps.jpgThursday to District 7 where I met with 20 of the Community Birth Educators who had just completed a course in “community mapping” sponsored by USAID. The CBEs are very proud of their community maps. I visited two households, traipsing after one of the CBEs in her burka as we made our way through narrow alley-ways bisected by a trough of fetid water and debris. In one home a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, two of the four reproductive-age women in the household, had given birth on the same day about a month ago. TheDist 7 3.jpg mother-in-law had a healthy looking baby happily breast-feeding in her lap. The daughter-in-law’s baby had died of “hepatitis” 10 days prior; the mother recounted that the baby was very yellow and it died in the hospital. A few questions prompted information that her blood was “bad”…with a few more questions she produced a piece of paper the an Rh Neg. laCBE Haley 2.jpgb result. She then reported she had lost a pregnancy at 7 months the previous year. Finally when all the bits and pieces were teased out of the young girl we discussed her need for Rhogam with her next pregnancy. Rhogam costs $50-$60 in Kabul; it is unlikely this woman, with no prenatal care and no contact with the health system other than the CBE, will get Rhogam. The CBE is aware of the danger to future pregnancies, but who knows if the dots will ever be connected for this mother.


I ponder this dire condition of Afghan women sitting in Dubai awaiting a flight to London…traveling between the fragility and fundamentalism of South Asia to the bravado and fundamentalism of my homeland. Dubai, a strange “paradise” having escaped the ravages of war and conquest, sits two hours from Kabul with verdant landscaping sharply outlined against the indigenous desert, flashy SUVs, and towering glass shopping malls; its opulence is disquieting.  I unabashedly give myself over to the reprieve from Kabul…happily suspended for 18 hours in this sumptuous vacuum halfway between two worlds separated by two hours…on the same planet.