Afghan mortality rate improves
Posted: 13 April 2012 by Rob Dabrowski
Over recent years the maternal mortality rate for live births in Afghanistan has plummeted, but the country still lags behind.
The rate has fallen from 1600 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006, to 327 in 2011, according to government figures.
Six years ago the country had the second highest maternal mortality figures in the world, after Senegal.
It has now made significant progress, but still lags behind others in the region.
The official figures also reveal that 77 children less than a year old die per 1000 live births.
The figure rises to 97 per 1000 for child deaths of those under the age of five.
The high mortality rate is thought to be due to a lack of awareness about pregnancy-related health issues and limited access to health services.
It is also attributed to a shortage of skilled midwives and widespread malnutrition.
Najibullah Safi, WHO national officer, said: ‘Even in Kabul many people prefer women to give birth at home instead of dealing their cases at hospitals or through midwives. In rural areas the situation is worse due to the low level of awareness.’
The country’s ministry of public health has made reducing child mortality and improving of maternal health top priorities.
With the support of its partners – including the WHO and UNICEF – the government has created national programmes aimed at increasing the number of trained midwives.
About 4000 new midwives have now been trained at midwifery schools throughout the country.
And six dedicated maternal hospitals have opened along with mobile clinics and sub-centers.