IOM and IsDB Sign Agreement to Improve Maternal and Child Health Care Quality in Rural Afghanistan

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia- 12 May 2023 – Under the auspices of HE Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, President of the Islamic Development Bank, an Implementation Partner (IP) agreement was signed today between the IsDB, as the Trustee of the Afghanistan Humanitarian Trust Fund (AHTF), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the construction of 29 family health houses (FHHs) in Afghanistan.

The signing event, which took place on the sidelines of the 2023 IsDB Group Annual Meetings in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was attended by senior representatives from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), IsDB member countries, implementing partners, and other stakeholders, as well as guests.

The project aims to improve maternal and child healthcare in Afghanistan's remote rural areas by constructing 29 FHHs in collaboration with the Special Trust Fund for Afghanistan (STFA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Afghanistan has one of the world's highest infant mortality rates. According to UNFPA, thousands of Afghan women die every year from preventable pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.

"All the IP agreements signed today are important; however, this one touches my heart as the project aims to save the lives of our sisters and daughters in Afghanistan. No woman should die giving birth, and our joint efforts can reduce avoidable maternal mortality among Afghan women and girls.," said HE Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser.

" On this occasion, I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center for their USD 10 million contributions to the AHTF”. he added.

The AHTF will provide a total of USD 504,000 to IOM to facilitate the construction of FHHs. This funding includes a contribution from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) and USD 1,514,388 fromSTFA.

Under the project, IOM will lead the construction of the 29 FHHs in close coordination with the local communities. UNDP will provide solar energy and hot water systems. In addition, UNFPA will train midwives in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services and provide the FHHs with the necessary equipment, medicine, and furniture. To enhance grassroots ownership, the land for the FHHs was provided by the local community as an in-kind contribution. The 29 FHHs are expected to be completed within six months.

Mohammad J. Alsaati, Special Adviser to the IsDB President and AHTF Coordinator, said: "Afghanistan is confronted with a profound humanitarian crisis, with Afghan women and girls, the most vulnerable segment of society, especially in remote rural communities, bearing the brunt. By providing access to essential RMNCAH services in remote rural areas, this project contributes to the overall economic welfare of targeted communities."

Othman Belbeisi, IOM Regional Director for MENA, stated: "I am very pleased to sign a new cooperation agreement on behalf of IOM with our valued partner, Islamic Development Bank, to strengthen our existing humanitarian alliance worldwide. This life-saving project is a milestone for Afghanistan's health services in the targeted rural areas."

For her part, Maria Moita, IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission, indicated, "This funding will help thousands of mothers and children access critical healthcare and strengthen IOM's humanitarian response in the country."

"In Afghanistan's remote areas, men can travel some distances to receive much-needed medical services, while many women report being unable to receive regular medical care as their movement is often restricted and these family health houses will provide the much-needed care closer to home," she added.

The project aligns with the Global Agenda 2030 as it directly contributes to the progressive achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It targets women of reproductive age (15-49 years), adolescent girls, pregnant women, post-delivery women, and newborns. In addition, the FHHs will benefit the general population, including children (under the age of 5), other women, men, adolescent boys, and the elderly.

The AHTF serves as a vehicle to channel humanitarian assistance, address basic needs, and promote self-reliance and development in the country, following the decision of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC at its 17th Extraordinary Session held on 19 December 2021 in Islamabad, Pakistan.