The rain pelts down as the doctor and a burka-wearing midwife cling to their horse and donkey as they trot up the slippery slope, leaving the roaring river below. They enter the isolated village of Khaspak, where many of its 800-plus inhabitants wait patiently for their one opportunity a month to meet with a qualified health worker.
Like many other poor, remote towns in Afghanistan's northeastern Badakshan province, the people of Khaspak live far from clinics and hospitals. Instead, they rely mainly on mobile medical teams to come and treat them.
In a country blighted by numerous humanitarian crises, Badakshan suffers more than most. For example, 6 500 Badakshan women die for every 100 000 live births, almost four times the national average in a country with the world's second highest maternal mortality rate.
This photo essay offers a glimpse of the challenges to bring health care to these remote villages. It highlights two initiatives to improve healthcare for the people of Badakshan: mobile clinics and training female health workers for community clinics.
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