Afghanistan

20,000 women and girls affected by Afghanistan earthquake need urgent access to life-saving health care

New York, 4 July 2022 – Close to 20,000 women of childbearing age, including an estimated 2,000 who are currently pregnant, are among those affected by the deadly earthquake that shook the provinces of Paktika and Khost in Afghanistan last week.

An estimated 640 pregnant women are expected to give birth in the next three months. These women need sustained access to life-saving reproductive health services including antenatal care, skilled, facility-based delivery services, and referrals for emergency obstetric and newborn care, as necessary.

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, has rapidly mobilized to provide emergency support, and is working closely with partners to support the coordination of humanitarian assistance, with a particular focus on the needs of women and girls.

“UNFPA stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, who are suffering in the wake of a devastating earthquake,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA. “We continue to do everything we can on the ground to safeguard the health and dignity of women and girls, and ensure access to the lifesaving sexual and reproductive health and protection services they rely upon.”

The latest emergency response follows UNFPA’s continuing support to the overall humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, UNFPA appealed for $251.9 million funding to respond to the reproductive health and psychosocial needs of 9.2 million people. To date only 11 percent of the appeal has been funded. The recent earthquake will put further strain on already stretched resources.

UNFPA and partners’ support on the ground:

  • Five mobile health teams, which include female providers, deployed to support health facilities in affected areas, and provide reproductive health and psychosocial support and services to women and girls in need.
    Clean Delivery Kits distributed to support safe deliveries for pregnant women who are unable to access health facilities. - Kits include a plastic sheet, blanket, sterile gloves, soap, a razor blade, and an umbilical cord tie, and can meet the needs of an estimated 2,000 pregnant women.
  • Dignity Kits distributed to women and girls, containing essential hygiene items including menstrual pads and soap. Two Family Health Houses in Paktika remain open and functional and continue to deliver maternal and reproductive health services for women, girls, as well as general services.
  • Twelve midwives, recently trained by UNFPA, deployed to support the provision of maternal and newborn health services, including emergency obstetric care, in Paktika, with six midwives deployed to Sharan Provincial Hospital, and six to district hospitals in Urgon and Giyan.

Media Contact:
Zina Alam, +1 929 378 9431, zialam@unfpa.org