HIRA: Supporting vulnerable mothers and children


HIRA: Following decades of conflict and instability, the social systems in Afghanistan have been severely compromised. With a broken health system, access to quality healthcare has been a struggle for many, particularly internally displaced women and children. Alarmingly, Afghanistan’s maternal and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world. In partnership with the local government, since early 2020 Islamic Relief has been working to provide maternal healthcare, psychosocial support and nutrition activities to help vulnerable mothers better care for themselves and their children. 

Ziba Gul, a 32-year-old mother of three, lives in a refugee camp and is just one of the people to benefit from this project. When she had her daughter, Golsum, Ziba struggled to breastfeed and meet Golsum’s nutritional needs. When Golsum got sick, Ziba thought the reason for her daughter’s illness was due to her family’s poverty. When she learnt about Islamic Relief’s health services for mothers, she got involved and learnt essentials about nutrition for children and ways to better meet her daughter’s needs. 

“When I participate to your lesson I understand a lot, for example, we must cook different food each day from local ingredients. I [now] know about [the] benefit of vegetables, fruit and other cheaper locally available food. Golsum is 11 months now but I did not start giving complementary food to her yet and I understand that we should start complementary feeding at six month [along] with the breastfeeding [until she is] 2 years. It is about one month that I made this practice, so Golsum is [getting] better day by day…” 

About the project 

HIRA is a community-based healthcare project targeting the most vulnerable people in the Afghan community i.e. mothers and children who live in camps as internally displacement people and don’t have access to basic health services or life’s other essentials. The condition of these camps is shocking with poor hygiene and living standards. The project aims to improve the health and wellbeing of mothers and children in the targeted area by providing the essential health services, raising awareness about health and nutrition, prenatal care and psychological support. The project has been implemented in close collaboration with the local health department, health clusters, respective ministries and community groups. 

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