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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
My Day in Afghanistan: Maternity doctor
As part of the BBC News website's One Day in Afghanistan coverage on 13 September, we heard from people from all walks of life, all over the country.

Here you can read more from Dr Hajirah Zia Bahrustani, the head of the Feyzabad maternity hospital in Badakhshan, a region with the world's highest maternal mortality rates.


A field maternity hospital in Afghanistan
The maternity hospital needs more drugs and resources
I woke up at 3am, as I do every morning. Before I go to hospital I see patients in my own home.

Seven women were waiting to see me. Sometimes there are many more who need treatment before dawn.

Many of these women travel throughout the night from very far away just to see me. The paths are bad and the weather is harsh.

Mostly they suffer from secondary infections as a result of unsafe, amateur abortions or blocked labour.

When I got to the hospital at 8am, I had to urgently treat a pregnant woman with high blood pressure who was already in the operating theatre.

We started work in this maternity hospital in 2002. Before this we only had one room for gynaecology patients in the main town hospital. The UNFPA and the government gave us some money to help us out of this desperate situation and we built this place.

I would like more drugs and resources to expand. So many women here have terrible complications in pregnancy.

Tragic developments

When I got home at 4pm, I felt as if I needed a rest. It was a difficult day in the hospital.

Maternity hospital in Badakhshan

The first operation I performed was on the woman with high blood pressure who needed a Caesarean section. This was her first baby but unfortunately her blood pressure was incredibly high and the baby died.

She was under general anaesthetic and we had to extract the baby using what instruments we had. The duty doctor stayed to help, but it was very hard.

Her husband had come with her from the village and he gave us his permission before the operation. Obviously, he's very sad about the baby too.

The next operation I performed was on a woman with ovarian cysts who came from over 50km away. I removed them and she is going to be just fine.

But getting home wasn't the end of my working day. I had to see 10 patients waiting for me in my private clinic. They had come from all over Badakhshan and had a variety of complaints.

MORE AFGHAN DAILY LIVES

I did get some good news. One of my closest friends who lives in Australia called me for the first time in 13 years. We went our separate ways after the Kabuli wars and never saw each other again.

We must have very different lives now but it was great to hear from such a friend. I am very, very happy.

There are things to look forward to such as the elections, which are a great thing. One of the local candidates is a female doctor.

Maybe with such developments, women in Badakhshan can look forward to a good life.



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