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Harper Government provides basic health services for mothers and newborns in Afghanistan

April 11, 2013

Lifesaving health services to mothers and newborns will be provided to isolated communities in Afghanistan thanks to an investment by the Harper Government. The Honourable Senator Donald H. Oliver, on behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, today announced that Canada will support the creation of 49 family health houses in Afghanistan.

"By providing lifesaving health services in some of the most remote locations of Afghanistan, we are contributing to the well-being of mothers and newborns," said Senator Oliver. "Canada's support will help strengthen existing health facilities by bringing much-needed medical supplies and equipment to health workers, especially midwives."

Canada's support, through the United Nations Population Fund, will establish 49 family health houses in the province of Daikundi in Afghanistan. Family health houses offer examination and delivery rooms where trained community midwifes can work safely in locations identified by the community.

"A family health house ensures the provision of essential maternal, newborn and child health services by a trained midwife for people living in remote and underserved areas of Daikundi province," said Dr. Laurent Zessler, United Nations Population Fund representative in Afghanistan. "Because the midwife is from the village and the community contributes material and labour to the construction of the family health house, this innovative project establishes a partnership with the community, which ensures its sustainability."

Canada's support will also provide diagnostic and medical equipment required to ensure safe childbirth. The project is establishing a referral and counter-referral system for emergency neo-natal and obstetric care, and other levels of delivery and recovery care. All family health houses are supported by existing health system facilities through mobile health teams that bring supplies and provide supervision and mentoring to the midwives.

Economic Action Plan (EAP) 2013 reaffirms Canada's commitment to international development assistance for such urgent needs as maternal, newborn and child health. As announced in EAP2013, the Harper Government will enshrine the responsibilities of the Minister and the priority of international development and humanitarian assistance, for the first time ever, into law. The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will enhance coordination of international assistance with broader Canadian values and objectives.

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For more information, media should contact:

Daniel Bezalel Richardsen
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
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