A decade of change in Afghanistan – but not for maternal health

October 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

 A lot can change in a decade. In Afghanistan it’s been one hell of a decade, and it’s fair to say that an awful lot has happened, and a lot has been awful. One area where there has been less change than desired however is the area of maternal health. Despite a decade of programmes funded by donors including the World Bank, the EU and the States, aiming to reduce child mortality and the health of pregnant women, the figures are still dismal. Despite improvements in healthcare provision countrywide, Afghanistan remains the world’s worst place to be born.

The UN says that one in eight Afghan women face a risk of death from childbirth or pregnancy – an improvement from one in eleven ten years ago, but not staggering.

The infant mortality rate dropped from 165 per 1,000 to 111 per 1,000.

Main challenges to improving that rate are cited as illiteracy among women, a lack of roads, shortage of female healthcare, poor quality healthcare services in general and the poor food supply.

Health minister in Afghanistan Suraya Dalil said: “Our progress in curbing maternal mortality has been slow and unimpressive.”

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