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Afghan Women Doctors

The goal of the initiative is to empower Afghan health professionals by enhancing their leadership role through training and to increase Afghan women’s access to health care and health education. The higher education degree earned in the MPH course will help these doctors, especially the female doctors, to assume positions of leadership in the process of nation building, while also contributing to the improvement of health services in the country.

Overview of Initiative

The Afghan Women Doctors initiative consists of two programs sponsored by Sager Family Foundation working with implementing organizations in Afghanistan.

Community Health and Leadership Training for Female Health Professionals

The goal of the Community Health and Leadership Training for Female Health Professionals program, implemented by International Medical Corps in 2008 and 2009, was to empower female Afghan health professionals through targeted training that enhances their leadership skills, as well as improves their knowledge of primary health care.

The program included the selection and training of Master Trainers, chosen from four provinces in central and eastern Afghanistan. Following an initial three-month training phase, the Master Trainers implemented education programs for 76 health professionals through a series of refresher and Training of Trainer modules. During the third phase of the project, health professionals were deployed to various health posts across Afghanistan to provide refresher training for 209 female community health workers and health Shura members. Master Trainers traveled to their trainees’ home villages to monitor and evaluate their progress in implementing the health curriculum among their peers.

Master Trainers and health professionals were trained on topics such as primary health care, health education and infection prevention, pre- and post-natal care, newborn care, family planning and infectious diseases, expanded program of immunization, management and community leadership.

Despite challenges in recruitment, transportation, and securing training locations, International Medical Corps successfully completed the three phases of the project, building a new cadre of female health care leaders in Afghanistan.

Master in Public Health Two-Year Program for Women Doctors

Working with IbnSina, an Afghan NGO, the Sager Family Foundation sponsored creation of the first two- year Masters in Public Health (MPH) course in Afghanistan at IbnSina’s Institute of Public Health and Management Sciences (IPHMS). This funding enables IbnSina to offer the course in modern education facilities and provide scholarships to 5 female doctors, to obtain Master in Public Health degrees. The goal of the program is to improve standards of health in Afghanistan by offering higher education and management training, research, consultations and institutional networking at the national and regional levels. Sager Family Foundation’s emphasis has been to ensure that qualified Afghan women doctors can access this degree program and develop a cohort of women leaders to guide the future of public health in Afghanistan. To date, three cohorts of doctors have gone through the two-year Master in Public Health program, including 5 women and 17 men who graduated in 2010.

Why We Are Doing It

The goal of the initiative is to empower Afghan health professionals by enhancing their leadership role through training and to increase Afghan women’s access to health care and health education.

The higher education degree earned in the MPH course will help these doctors, especially the female doctors, to assume positions of leadership in the process of nation building, while also contributing to the improvement of health services in the country.

How We Measure Success

Success of the program is measured by the contribution it makes to the overall improvement in Afghan women doctors’ and healthcare workers’ basic healthcare knowledge, and the impact that has on improving the quality of healthcare services in Afghanistan.

Program results so far have been impressive. In one case, test averages before the training were 40% for newborn care and 15% for public health management. After the three-month course, participants tested at 95% for newborn care and 98% for health management.

There has also been some impressive measurable impact from these programs at a macro level in Afghanistan. The number of trained female midwives in Afghanistan has quadrupled, and the number of infant and child deaths has decreased by 25% since 2002, which is saving 100,000 children's lives per year.