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Editorial: Boosting health services

In the past years, in 2002, surveys conducted by the UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Presentation (CDC) reported that Afghan women suffer from the highest levels of maternal mortality in the world, with almost half of all deaths among women aged 15 to 49, coming as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. The survey revealed the ongoing humanitarian tragedy for Afghan women and children, one that needs to be publicized and overcome. It is like open book that war and the Taliban have devastated the country’s medical infrastructure, and the nation’s health challenges are most serious for its women and children. Since the collapse of the Taliban regime, the Afghan government with support of international community worked hard to reverse these heartbreaking conditions and to help restore health to the women and children. As a result, today situation is quite different. If not 100 percent, but at least there is huge short down in mother and child mortality rate. According to 2015 United Nations estimates, Afghanistan witnessed more than 70 percent reeducation in maternal deaths. Child mortality has decreased by 50 percent and national mortality within the first 28 days of life has declined by 32 percent. So we are yet to achieve complete success in saving mother and children. Despite such breakthrough, Afghan mother’s and children’s mortality remains among the highest in the region. Women are facing huge health issues in provinces, especially in difficult-to-reach rural areas. There are several factors that slowdown health systems capacity to cure the risk of mother and child mortality. Maternal and reproductive health service is still limited and the quality of services is low as a result of service delivery capacity. Thus, the government is making all out efforts to revive and strengthen midwifery since longtime, and it is very much crucial in reducing maternal mortality. It is totally appreciable to see decline in death rates among women and childbirth, and it is one of the great gains in the country. Anyways, today here is a different picture, and the government is turning every available stone to reduce this problem, if not eliminated completely. In a recent move, the Public Health Department has established a centre at the main Jalalabad hospital, where midwives, nurses and female graduates from Kunar, Laghman and Nuristan provinces, would be trained. The good thing is that this center would provide health facilities and work to save the lives of mothers and babies at childbirth in remote areas. In the past, 1,600 of 100,000 women lost their lives during pregnancy, but the figure has been brought down to 327, and efforts are on the cut this level to zero. Boosting the ranks of midwives would definitely help a lot in more lowering maternal and newborn death rates. The Afghan government with support of international community has to put a full stop to the matter through strengthening midwifery services—both in hospital settings and in rural communities, where many women live beyond the reach of conventional health facilities. The government did a lot, but still there is a lot more needed to fully eliminate mother and child mortality one and all.

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