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Abbott and Abbott Fund Expand Commitment to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Afghanistan


Company Announces $2.5 Million for Expanded Partnership with Direct Relief International and the Afghan Institute of Learning to Benefit More Than 140,000 Women and Children

Abbott (NYSE: ABT), the global health care company, has committed $2.5 million in funding and product donations over the next year to improve maternal and child health in Afghanistan, as part of the company’s innovative partnership with Direct Relief International and the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL). The expanded partnership will provide health education and midwife training, to help reverse the alarming maternal mortality ratio and increase the survival and overall health of infants and children in Afghanistan.

“With only 14 percent of births attended by a skilled health care worker, Afghanistan has the second-highest maternal mortality ratio in the world,” said Katherine Pickus, senior director, Global Citizenship and Policy, Abbott. “Every day, 70 pregnant Afghan women die, often during childbirth.”

Through Abbott Fund’s support, AIL will offer an intensive 18-month health education and midwifery course to Afghan women who will then provide urgently needed health care and health education to women throughout the country. It is estimated that one trained midwife can serve about 11,000 patients each year.

Additionally, Abbott’s commitment will help AIL conduct workshops for an estimated 300 women in Kabul, Herat and Bamiyan Provinces, providing education on general health care, hygiene practices, child birth and breastfeeding. Overall, it is estimated that more than 140,000 lives will be positively affected by this innovative effort. Since the partnership began three years ago, more than 300,000 women and children have benefited from the program’s healthcare and education services.

“Our goal is to build a foundation for quality education and health for years to come,” said Sakena Yacoobi, executive director, AIL. “With Abbott Fund’s support, we can provide comprehensive education and health services to Afghan women and children, so that they can support and take care of themselves and their communities.”

Afghanistan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world; one child out of every four does not survive his or her fifth birthday. There is also a severe shortage of female medical professionals in a culture where women are often unable or uncomfortable seeking medical attention from male physicians.

“At Abbott, we focus on finding sustainable solutions to make a lasting impact on people’s lives,” said Pickus. “By building off the results from previous years, and continuing our work with Direct Relief and the Afghan Institute of Learning, we are able to achieve a multiplier effect that will greatly improve the lives of thousands of Afghan women and children.”

Founded in 1995 by Nobel Prize nominee Sakena Yacoobi, a longtime advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan, AIL helps women and children access education and health services. The organization serves 350,000 women and children annually, and it employs approximately 415 Afghans, more than 70 percent of whom are women. Since Abbott first partnered with Direct Relief in 2005, Abbott Fund has given AIL more than $4 million in grants and product donations, including rehydration solutions, antibiotics, multivitamins and nutritional supplements.


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