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At a gathering of U.S. and Pakistani officials on Monday in Islamabad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that many Pakistanis believe that U.S. involvement in Pakistan “narrowly focuses” on security issues. Clinton said that the U.S. is working to change that–and will be funding several new health and development projects in Pakistan worth over $500m over the next five years.

Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

“…USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said the new projects reflect Pakistani priorities and demonstrates that the U.S. “commitment is broad and deep,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative to Pakistan, noted that the focus on water is the result of a specific request from Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. “The first phase of the multi-year water program will encompass seven initiatives at a cost of $270 million and include dam irrigation projects in rural areas to control flooding, and improve water supply and quality,” the news service writes.

Another three-year $28 million health project plans to “build an obstetrics and gynecology hospital ward and training center at a hospital that handles 17,000 births a year. The health funds would also increase bed capacity at Pakistan’s largest maternity hospital, Lahore’s Lady Willingdon,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek…”

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Veil of Tears is a collection of transcribed interviews with children, women, and men in Afghanistan about loss in childbirth. These interviews are part of IRIN’s  Kabul-based radio project, which closed at the end of 2009 after six years of humanitarian radio production and journalistic capacity building in Afghanistan.

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

“In Veil of Tears, a 60-page colour booklet launched today, IRIN brings you a unique collection of personal stories of loss and courage in childbirth, as told by women, men and children from different parts of Afghanistan.

The stories were originally recorded in local languages, Dari and Pashto, for IRIN Radio broadcasts. Transcribed into English in Veil of Tears, they convey the immediacy and intimacy of the interviews conducted by IRIN reporters, who travelled in some cases for several days to reach the remotest villages in Afghanistan.

The interviewees in the booklet talk about the struggle to get enough nutritious food to sustain a woman through pregnancy, and to feed their families on any given day; they describe the awesome distances and terrain that separate people living in the villages from the nearest health facility; they describe the lack of proper roads and transport that may leave a donkey cart as the only option to attempt a life-or-death journey with a pregnant wife or mother to a hospital; they explain the cultural and social rules that might mean decisions by men are made too late to save a woman and her baby…”

Read the full story here.

Click here for a PDF of the Veil of Tears.

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