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News and Views

Minister of Health Addresses Women's Health at Capitol Hill Forum

Minister of Health Dr. Mohammad Amin Fatimie described the advances made in women's health in Afghanistan over the last eight years in a Capitol Hill briefing on July 14.

The briefing, titled "Maternal Health in Afghanistan: How Can We Save Women's Lives?" and sponsored by Women's Policy Inc., also included the participation of Melanne Verveer, the State Department's Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky Pashtoon Azfar, president of the Afghan Midwives Association.

During his presentation, Minister Fatimie pointed out that since 2001, access to health services has improved; the quality of health services has risen; more health services have been focused on children, women and the poor; and mortality rates amongst women and children have declined.

Minister Fatimie used maps to show how the number of healthcare facilities has increased and how a larger proportion of the Afghan population now has access to healthcare than before. According to statistics he presented, over 30 percent of pregnant women are now receiving care from a skilled provider - a dramatic increase from the five percent that did in 2003. Additionally, the infant mortality rate declined from 165 per 1,000 live-births in 2000 to 129 per 1,000 in 2005.

These advances notwithstanding, Minister Fatimie stressed that challenges remains. In Badakshan Province, for example, one out of every 16 pregnant women dies because of their pregnancy.

Click here to view Minister Fatimie's presentation.

Related News: In War and Isolation, a Fighter for Afghan Women (NYT)

                      Afghan Midwives Step Up to Save Lives (CNN)

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