Study Shows Gains in Afghan Health

Posted December 1st, 2011 at 2:35 am (UTC-5)
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A new survey says health care has improved in Afghanistan, helping more women survive childbirth and leading to fewer infant deaths.

Afghanistan's health ministry says data from more than 22,000 households shows the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes is at its lowest point in seven years, while adults in general are living longer.

The survey says one in 10 children die before the age of 5, mostly from respiratory infections and other preventable causes.

That number is about half the rate reported by the United Nations in 2009, when Afghanistan had the second-highest infant mortality in the world.

The Afghanistan director for aid group Save the Children, David Skinner, told VOA that during the past four to five years an increase in health workers has resulted in a significant increase in life expectancy. He said there is a need to build on the success, concentrating on neonatal care and using midwives from local communities.

The study also found improvements in access to clean water, sanitation and electricity.

But it said despite the gains, there are still substantial gaps to address. It notes that two-thirds of births take place in the home, and that 60 percent of households still lack access to electricity.