On 22nd March 2023, a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 struck the northeastern province of Badakhshan, Afghanistan with an epicenter located just 40 kilometers from the town of Jurm. At least 12 people have died and 204 others have been injured in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to official sources from both countries.
Afghan Health Ministry spokesman Sharafat Zaman Amar said that “health centers have reported three deaths and 44 injuries” from the quake, with the deaths occurring in the provinces of Laghman and Takhar. The earthquake was also felt in Pakistan, where nine people have died in the northeastern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to local media reports, the quake left 160 people injured in Pakistan. The region is known for its significant seismic activity and is a common point of origin for telluric movements in the area.
Afghanistan has experienced earthquakes in the past, with one of the largest earthquake disasters occurring in 1998 when two earthquakes of magnitude 5.9 and 6 in February killed about 4,000 people. In May of that year, another earthquake of magnitude 7 shook the area again, causing about 5,000 deaths.
Despite facing natural disasters and ongoing conflict, there is still hope for Afghanistan. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has launched a program to train midwives to assist pregnant women during childbirth and care for both mother and baby after birth. However, with nearly six percent of newborns dying before their fifth birthday in Afghanistan, much work is still needed to reduce the maternal mortality rate in the country.
The training is taking place at Bamiyan Hospital with the women who are receiving training being trained to later care for pregnant women in their villages. Midwives would be able to provide much-needed medical care in remote areas where people are often cut off from medical care. According to the World Health Organization, Afghanistan is one of the countries with the highest rates of maternal mortality.
Despite the challenges and the loss of life caused by the earthquake, the commitment and determination of the Afghan people and their allies give hope for a brighter future. It is imperative to continue efforts to improve medical care and reduce the maternal mortality rate in the country to ensure a healthier and brighter future for all Afghans.