Birth Life Saving Skills (BLiSS) training continues to be tremendously effective in providing safer environments for pregnant mothers and infants both during and after childbirth. Our participatory educational training is being modelled and taught amongst other NGO’s working with women in Afghanistan to reduce mother and infant mortality rates. With a large number of Afghan women delivering their babies at home by untrained attendants this education is saving lives. Training men and women to teach BLiSS is also reproducing this valuable work.
For many years both statistics and anecdotal evidence have reflected the reality that Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal, infant and under 5 mortality rates in the world. The Millennium Development Goals recognized infant and maternal health as a priority area to address.
In 2005, in response to this crisis, Operation Mercy and Community Consultants International (CCI) developed the Birth Life Savings Skills (BLiSS) program. The program was developed in close consultation with Afghan staff and a number of local women from the program’s target group in order to make sure that it was relevant and appropriate for delivery in poor Afghan communities. Following a pilot period where feedback was obtained from selected communities, the program was approved by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) for delivery within Afghanistan. Although CCI retains copyright on the curriculum, Operation Mercy continues to develop the program‘s content, materials and methods to ensure it remains culturally relevant and acceptable to each community we work in.
BLiSS is a health education program that helps participants understand how to have safer, healthier pregnancies, how to respond to emergencies during delivery and the essential health needs of infants. The program is based around seventeen lessons that use role-plays, models, stories and picture cards to make the information accessible to literate and illiterate participants. With pre- and post- training evaluations and a graduation, the complete BLiSS cycle runs over twenty weeks. BLiSS specifically targets communities where infant mortality is greater than 25%, or where the nearest health facility is a considerable distance away and unlikely to be accessed by poor families.