Maternal Child Health Initiative in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world – 70 pregnant women die each day, often during childbirth. Meanwhile, one in five children will not live to see their fifth birthday. The Abbott Fund is working to improve the lives of Afghan women and children through a partnership with Direct Relief International and the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL). Founded by Nobel Prize nominee Sakena Yacoobi, a longtime advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan, AIL has five clinics serving rural areas, each providing health services and education and staffed and operated by Afghan women. The partnership focuses on empowering these women by training midwives, as well as skilled health care providers for infants and children.

Maternal Child Health Initiative in Afghanistan

To improve the lives of women and children in Afghanistan, Abbott and the Abbott Fund are partnering with Afghanistan Institute of Learning (AIL), founded by Nobel Prize nominee Sakena Yacoobi, a long-time advocate for women's rights in Afghanistan, and Direct Relief International to help reverse the country's high maternal mortality rate, and increase the survival and overall health of infants and children.

With support from Abbott Fund, Direct Relief has been able to help AIL develop programs that support the health and well-being of disenfranchised Afghan women by providing them with access to nutrition, health education, and quality medical services. AIL employs Afghan women who are aware and sensitive to the challenges faced by their peers and they have developed successful programs and activities to address these barriers and engage women in the community. AIL provides critically needed maternal health and health education services to Afghan women. AIL collaborates with Direct Relief to develop long-term strategies that effectively and sustainably address the issue of maternal health in Afghanistan, which may include evaluation activities and other visual mapping methods to demonstrate the impact of AIL’s work.
In alignment with the WHO program on Reproductive Health and UN Millennium Development Goals, AIL is committed to improving maternal mortality rates and the overall health and survival of infants and children in Afghanistan. AIL operates five maternal and child health (MCH) clinics in rural Afghanistan: three in Herat and two in Kabul.

With five clinics serving mostly rural areas in Afghanistan, AIL is staffed and operated by Afghan women. Abbott Fund support is focused on empowering Afghan women through the training of female nurses, midwives and health educators to provide skilled assistance during labor and delivery, as well as care for infants and children. The Abbott Fund also is supporting 5-day women's health workshops.

Abbott has donated products to improve maternal and child health, including rehydration solutions, antibiotics, multivitamins and nutritional supplements.
The Abbott Fund has provided more than $1.2 million in grants and Abbott has provided more than $4.5 million in product donations to support the work of Afghanistan Institute of Learning. In part through this support, more than 1 million people have attended health education programs and nearly 170,000 women have received reproductive health services.


  • Abbott Laboratories

    Goods Supplier
    South Africa | Staff size: 51-100

    For more than 20 years, Abbott has made a significant contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS through the development of innovative tests and medicines. Building on this history, Abbott and...

  • Direct Relief

    Implementing NGO
    United States | Staff size: 26-50

    Direct Relief is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides medical assistance to people around the world who have been affected by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest....

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Key Information

LocationAfghanistan, South Africa
  • Start Date 2005
ValueUSD 5.7 Million