Afghanistan: 38% reduction in child mortality, 40% reduction in maternal mortality occurred during 2002 to 2008

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Dr. SMA Fatimie, the Minister of Public Health disclosed a remarkable reduction in maternal and child mortality in Afghanistan. The child mortality rate was 257/1,000 live births in 2002. The findings of a new survey of National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA) done by the Central Statistics Office and partners in 2007 to 2008 indicates that child mortality has come down to 161/1,000 live births, a 38% reduction in mortality rate.

According to a survey of Johns Hopkins University in 2006 a 26% reduction in child mortality was achieved between 2002 and 2006. The recent NRVA suggests another 12% reduction in child mortality. The NRVA finding shows that the reduction in child mortality has gain good momentum. We believe that the reduction will be coming even down steadily because of improvement in all health indicators.

A calculation based on the survey findings shows that the lives of 500,000 children age between 0-5 years have been saved between 2002-2008 mostly because of improvements in the delivery of Basic Health Services and Essential Hospital Services including maternal and child health all over the country. NRVA is a periodic survey designed for assessment of socio-economic, including health indicators and financially supported by the World Bank and the European Commission under the leadership of Central Statistics Office.

Dr. Fatimie said that special support of His Excellency Hamed Karzai, the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the health and nutrition sector of Afghanistan has been very important and instrumental in achieving these significant results in a short period of time. President Karzai is very enthusiastic in pushing implementation of health programs in Afghanistan and he is personally participating in immunization campaigns to boost child immunity against childhood diseases.

Dr. Fatimie acknowledged that all these achievements were possible because of extraordinary support of Afghan Government leadership to the health programs of MoPH, financial and technical support of international community, good governance of MoPH and support of young, energetic Afghan media in raising public awareness.

Dr. Fatimie explained that in 2002 about 165 out of 1000 under 1 year age children and 257 out of 1000 under 5 years age children could not make their first and fifth birthdays, respectively. He added that the causes of deaths were preventable and because of our efforts in improving health services we had been able to save lives of those children. Dr. Fatimie added that by another calculation, MoPH had found indications that 40% reduction must have been occurred between 2002 and 2008.

Findings of NRVA released by Dr. Fatimie in Kabul while His Excellency Gordon Brown, British Premier mentioned about health sector achievements in Afghanistan, especially reduction in maternal and child mortality during a hearing at British Lower House.

Dr. Fatimie also said that based on WHO recommendation developing countries should invest $25 per person annually while we have achieved these results by investing $6.5 per person annually. He suggested that annually at least $13 per person should be invested in Afghanistan. He said that in 2002 Afghanistan had around 400 health facilities, while in 2009 there were 1788 health facilities with the proportionate increases in the number of trained health staff all over the country.