Voices from the Field: LMG-Afghanistan hosts health systems strengthening forum

Feroza Mushtari, Acting President of the Afghan Midwives Association, decided to become a midwife at age 13, after she had to dress as a boy to help a woman in labor get to a health clinic during the reign of the Taliban. At the time, women were not allowed to study midwifery, so Feroza waited until after the fall of the Taliban in 2002 to begin her career. She graduated in 2004, and has continued to enhance her knowledge and skills by participating in the Leadership Development Program (LDP) for Afghan midwives, implemented by Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Afghanistan Project.

Feroza was one of four speakers who elaborated on their experiences with the LMG-Afghanistan Project during a three-hour Voices From the Field event, held by the LMG-Afghanistan Project at the USAID offices in Washington DC in early April.  She was joined by Dr. Said Habib Arwal, Director of the Community-Based Health Care (CBHC) Department at the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH); Dr. Zeliakha Anwari, LMG-AF Program Manager for Provincial Health Systems Strengthening; and Dr. Ihanullah Shahir, Director General of Human Resources, MoPH. All four speakers shared their stories during interactive sessions, which highlighted the LMG-AF Project’s support to service delivery and health systems strengthening in Afghanistan. The event was moderated by Stephanie Cálves, Deputy Country Portfolio Director, Project Management, CLM, MSH.

“It was a great opportunity for me, as a midwife, to be part of such a highly important event and share midwifery successes with international community,” Feroza said of her role in the event.

The event also included a panel discussion, with participation from USAID and USAID-implementing partners. The discussion centered on sustaining the health systems strengthening progress made thus far in Afghanistan, especially given changes in the security, government leadership, and donor landscape.  Panel speakers included Andrew Rebold from USAID/Afghanistan; Dr. Hedayatullah Saleh, LMG-Afghanistan Project Director; Dr. Omarzaman Sayedi, Team Leader, Health Policy Project (HPP) Afghanistan, Futures Group; Nasratullah Ansari, Project Director, Family Planning, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Project, JHPEIGO;  and Dr. Rushna Ravji, Health Team Lead for Asia and the Middle East, Bureau for Global Health, USAID/Washington. Reena Shukla, Health Officer, Service Delivery Improvement Division, Office of Population and Reproductive Health, USAID provided opening and closing comments for this event.

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Leadership development takes time. Leadership is simple, but at the same time, very advanced.

– Dr. Ihanullah Shahir, Director General of Human Resources, MoPH

The Voices From the Field Event is the first in a series of end-of-project activities that will take place before the LMG-Afghanistan Project closes in June 2015.

Feroza Mushtari’s story was captured in the State of Afghanistan’s Midwifery 2014  report, which showcases the achievements of Afghan midwives and provides recommendations to continue their activities in the country. Publications are also available that detail the LMG-Afghanistan Project’s CBHC and leadership and management activities in Afghanistan.

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