KABUL PROVINCE – A full-color image of the human body is beamed on the screen. Heavy drapes block sunlight and all that shines in the classroom are the tips of ballpoint pens as the young women furiously take notes. The dull walls are brightened by a tapestry of posters on health and physical fitness. The instructor uses a pointer to explain the image, pausing from time to time to gauge students’ understanding.
This is a typical Monday morning in SEHAT’s Community Health Nursing Education (CHNE) class. Women from 13 different districts in Kabul Province are undergoing intensive training to become fully trained nurses when they graduate the following year. They are part of a systemic intervention to train midwives and nurses by the System Enhancement for Health Action in Transition (SEHAT) program to increase the capacity of health staff to deliver a basic package of health services.
SEHAT, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), aims to expand the scope, quality, and coverage of health services provided to the population, particularly for the poor. It is supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), in partnership with multiple donors.
The nursing classes run in parallel with the Community Midwifery Education (CME) program. The aim of both programs is to train and empower Afghan women to take on a more proactive role in their country’s development story. The current batch of students in Khoshhal Khan, in the western part of Kabul city, is made up of 24 CHNE and 25 CME students. “They are all eager to finish their studies next year and start work as full-time nurses and midwives,” says Dr. Khalil, of Move Welfare Organization, an Afghan nongovernmental organization (NGO) providing health care and training services under SEHAT.