Norgul Health Center is in the Norgul District of Kunar Province, approximately 200 km east of Kabul in an area currently under control of armed groups. Norgul Health Centre is one of four clinics in Norgul District serving a population of 90,000, with approximately 100-150 patients treated daily.
Prior to 2021, none of these clinics had either a midwife or female doctor. This posed challenges for women and children seeking treatment, particularly for patients in labor. “When we were there, we found out that there is no female doctor or midwife, and this made the situation even worse for us,” recounted Mr. Haji Gul Nabi, a Norgul district resident. Prior to 2021, Mr. Nabi’s family had attempted to visit Norgul Health Center at midnight, urgently seeking childbirth assistance.
Norgul Health Center has now served between 100 – 150 patients, particularly pregnant women. Now people no longer need to travel long distances to more remote health centers to receive treatment. Improved healthcare at Norgul District has even begun attracting patients from other Districts.
With this area of Kunar Province under the control of armed groups, public health authorities have faced logistical challenges in supporting and monitoring Norgul Health Center.
To bridge this gap, the SMG organizes two advocacy platforms each quarter between the Directorate of Public Health in Kunar, which acts as the Ministry of Public Health’s implementing partner for Kunar Province, Integrity Volunteers, and civil society stakeholders. These sessions are key opportunities for stakeholders and authorities to share and discuss issues of concern on a regular basis.
“I believe this regular community monitoring and advocating for the issues in the relevant meetings of the health officials is very effective. We are happy to see that a female doctor and a midwife are now working at the Health Center.” said Ashna, a resident of the district.
UNDP Afghanistan’s Anti-Corruption, Transparency, Integrity and Openness (ACTION) Project through the Integrity Watch Afghanistan has been working to facilitate community-level engagement with the Sectorial Management Group (SMG) in Kunar Province.
The SMG operates as a Community Based Monitoring - Enhanced Project designed to raise communities’ awareness and enhance public engagement through joint monitoring of health facilities, leading to the progressive improvement of health services.
In addition to educating communities about Community Based Monitoring and Access to Information laws, Integrity Watch Afghanistan encouraged community members across Kunar Province to elect a community representative to monitor their local health facilities and to brief their respective communities and shura (Council) members.
Following the report of Mr. Rohullah, the elected representative for Norgul District, the health shura subsequently informed Integrity Watch Afghanistan of their need for a midwife and female doctor at Norgul Health Centre. Integrity Watch Afghanistan was then able to add this issue to the monthly SMG meeting agenda, which ultimately led to the recruitment of Norgul Health Center’s new midwife and female doctor.
Prior to UNDP’s involvement in Kunar Province, communities had little knowledge or engagement of monitoring practices to. Through the work of ACTION grantees such as Integrity Watch Afghanistan, community engagement through monitoring has developed into even greater community participation, attracting both in-kind and monetary support. Communities now directly engage with public health providers at local clinics or at the provincial level through platforms such as the SMG.
Integrity Watch Afghanistan is supported by grant under UNDP Afghanistan’s Anti-Corruption, Transparency, Integrity and Openness (ACTION) Project. The ACTION Project works to increase public trust and transparency in Afghanistan’s justice and public security institutions. ACTION is generously funded by the Royal Danish Embassy.