News: New Maternal Health Center in Panjshir opens for mothers
Story by 1st Lt. Jason Smith
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Pregnant women in the Paryan District of the Panjshir province have a new option when the time comes to give birth.
Panjshir Province Acting Governor Abdul Rahman Kabiri, along with U.S. Army Col. Thomas Drew, Task Force Wolverine deputy commander, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Curtis Velasquez, commander of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team, cut the ribbon on a new Maternal Health Center, complete with a trained midwife, in the far north area of the province, April 7.
"Until now, ( women giving birth) would either go to the Basic Health Clinic or give birth at home," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Calnicean, a physician assistant with the Panjshir PRT. "They might have a midwife come to the house, but most of them don't have any formal training. This is a big improvement."
The project has been in the works for more than two years and cost about $75,000 in PRT Commander's Emergency Response Program funds, said U. S. Air Force Capt. Phillip Baker, a civil engineer with the Panjshir PRT. The contractor had delays completing the final construction requirements on the 110-square-meter facility.
"The clinic will serve approximately 2,000 families," said Baker, who is deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "This is the only mother-child clinic for the northern two-thirds of Paryan. It serves a very remote region of Afghanistan."
During his speech, Kabiri said, through an interpreter, that most of the projects in the valley, just like the MHC, are completed because of the support of the PRT.
"The people need this," said Kabiri. "We built this here to meet the needs of the people with the help of the PRT. You can see a lot of construction in Panjshir, and most of it has been done with help from the PRT."
Kabiri also said that now is the time for Panjshir to be united with its friends.
"After the Taliban fell, we finally have security here," said Kabiri. "We lost a lot of people, but now we're secure. In 30 years of fighting, Panjshir was always the province that stayed together. Right now we need to stay together. We need to be with our friends, not our enemies."
Velasquez also gave a speech, thanking the Panjshiris for being great hosts.
"I'm thankful we've been able to build a strong partnership with the provincial government," said Velasquez. "We could not have done this without the support of all of the people. We are here because of you and because we have your support."
The end result should be an improved quality of care, said Calnicean, who is deployed from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He said having a place that specializes in delivering babies is important for Paryan families.
After some prayer, speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, all attending parties celebrated with a traditional Afghan lunch.