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SICA Success Stories

USAID Launches School of Maternity to Improve Reproductive Health in Bukhara

Nodira Kholova, director of the Bukhara Regional Association of Reproductive Health, has been concerned about the dearth of accessible information on reproductive health in Uzbekistan for many years. "Being an obstetrician-gynecologist, I wanted to emphasize the significance of women's psychological and physical health and the need for comprehensive sex education,” shares Nodira. “My tenure in the public sector provided insights into systemic gaps and potential remedies.”

In 2018, Nodira founded the Bukhara Regional Association of Reproductive Health, an NGO dedicated to supporting reproductive health, preventing early marriages, upholding women's reproductive rights, offering sex education, and equipping families with reliable information on healthy family planning and pregnancy preparedness.

"I founded this organization out of concern that insufficient knowledge and preparation [before pregnancy] can lead to health complications or even fatal outcomes. Despite my passion, I lacked a team, infrastructure, equipment and, most importantly, funds. Then we noticed an announcement about a grant from Eurasia Foundation," shares Nodira.

With a grant from the USAID-funded Social Innovation in Central Asia (SICA) program, implemented by Eurasia Foundation, the association rented an office and established Ona Bola (“Mother Child” in Uzbek) Motherhood School. Ona Bola Motherhood School provides tailored medical and psychological consultations to women of reproductive age, equipping them with essential knowledge for safeguarding their reproductive health. Fifty pregnant women and individuals from vulnerable backgrounds received training from maternity specialists, obstetrician-gynecologists, and psychologists on reproductive health, family planning, childbirth, and motherhood preparation. A novel element of this program was the inclusion of regional bloggers, who amplified the initiative's reach by sharing insights from the training across social media platforms.

Mavlyuda Salomova, a former program participant who now works at the school as a nurse, shares her journey: "I underwent treatment for infertility under the guidance of Nodira Kholova, director of the Bukhara Regional Association of Reproductive Health, who also taught at my technical school. Inspired to support women facing similar challenges, I pursued nursing. The project provided me with invaluable advice and physiological preparation for motherhood. Little did I know that this training would pave the way for my employment, allowing me to serve the region as a nurse at the Ona Bola Motherhood School.”

After her training at the Ona Bola Motherhood School, Dilnoza Djumaeva presented her vision for similar schools at a youth meeting with the regional khokim (governor). This initiative won the khokim’s esteemed "Best Initiative" award. “Upon hearing my proposal, the regional khokim extended support to find suitable locations for more Motherhood Schools across Bukhara,” says Dilnoza. “I'm now gearing up to establish a similar institution in Samarkand. My ultimate vision is to create platforms across the republic where women can holistically prepare for motherhood, ensuring they receive top-tier psychological and medical support.”

For Nodira, examples like this reaffirm that the Association is on the right path. "Every dream achieved sets the stage for another. My upcoming goal is to establish a School of Infancy and expand the Bukhara Regional Association of Reproductive Health, aiming for comprehensive support for women–from fitness facilities to postnatal care," she concludes.

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