August 11, 2008 11:16 ET

Community Partners Help Mothers and Babies in Afghanistan

Donation Helps UNICEF Deliver Essential Services to Khairkhana Hospital

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 11, 2008) - UNICEF today thanked the North York General Hospital Foundation, The Canadian International Development Agency, Canada Company and the Toronto Garrison Officers Ball for their generous contribution to help women and children in Afghanistan. The funds raised will help expectant mothers and newborns get the health care they need at the Khairkhana Hospital in Kabul Province.

"Women and children in Afghanistan are especially vulnerable right now, and there is an urgent need for more supplies and training in hospitals to ensure that expectant mothers can safely give birth to healthy babies," said Nigel Fisher, President & CEO, UNICEF Canada. "The funds raised at the Garrison Ball will go a long way in helping UNICEF deliver critical healthcare services to women in Khairkhana."

This year's Ball, held at The Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto in February, raised $250,000 towards reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. "We are extremely pleased to be working with UNICEF on this important initiative," said Blake Goldring, Chair of Canada Company and Honorary Colonel of The Royal Regiment of Canada. "The partnership between civilians, CIDA and UNICEF is highly significant and demonstrates a uniquely Canadian approach to helping the Afghan people."

Currently, Khairkhana Hospital, in Kabul Province, services approximately one million people. The quality of care in the hospital is poor and the facilities very basic. One of the most significant problems for the hospital is the need for obstetric and newborn care training for personnel and medical supplies for the maternity and pediatric wards. Funds raised at the Garrison Ball will be used by UNICEF to provide maternity and pediatric wards with new equipment and supplies. Funds will also be used to train doctors and nurses in emergency obstetric and newborn care. It is estimated that these improvements will reduce the number of deaths due to childbirth complications by 20 per cent in just one year.

Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Every year, between 18,000 and 25,000 women die from complications due to childbirth, which is the equivalent to one woman dying every 27 minutes. UNICEF, together with the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health, is working to improve the survival rates for mothers and their newborns across Afghanistan.


UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 156 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

Contact Information

  • UNICEF Canada
    Karen Snider
    Media Relations Officer
    (416) 482-4444, ext. 8831
    Website: ksnider@unicef.ca