Health in Afghanistan Situation Analysis
Date of Publication : Thursday 29 May 2008 16:31
After 23 years of conflict and political instability, a collapsed economy, and three years of severe drought, Afghanistan’s health system is among the very poorest in the world. Obtaining the most basic of necessities – food, shelter and clothing – is a constant struggle. Such exposure intensifies an already poor health situation, with acute respiratory illnesses, diarrhoeal diseases, and malnutrition killing and weakening the children of Afghanistan. There is a critical shortage of health care workers at every level. Healthcare facilities are in urgent need of restoration. There are inadequate supplies of medicines, vaccines, equipment and fuel. An estimated 6 million people have no access, or insufficient access to health care.
Saving lives in Afghanistan depends on having health workers in the field and sufficient medical supplies, as well as food, shelter and security. But the gap in material and human resources is great. Existing health services only cover limited geographical regions and even in the districts where health services are available, needs are only partially met. The impact of the conflict and remaining deadly land mines and unexploded ordnance daily adds victims both through physical injury and mental stress, affecting every family in Afghanistan over time.
• Life expectancy rates are among the lowest in the world and 25% of children die before their fifth birthday. Lack of basic health care and malnutrition contribute to the high death rates.
• Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Less than 15% of deliveries are attended by trained health workers, mostly traditional birth attendants.
• About half of children under 5 years of age are stunted due to chronic malnutrition and up to 10% have acute malnutrition
• Mental health is a major health concern. Experts estimate that approximately 30%–50% of a population undergoing violent conflict develop some level of mental distress. Residual mental health problems that appear normally in any population have been unattended in Afghanistan for decade
• Diseases that have largely been controlled in most countries in the world continue to cause death and disability in Afghanistan. More than 60% of all childhood deaths and disabilities in Afghanistan are due to respiratory infections, diarrhea, and vaccine preventable deaths, especially measles.
Total Population (1998): 23,500,000
Life expectancy at birth: 45 for men, 47 for women
Number of districts: 330
Number of districts w/out health center: 50
Non or underserved population: 6 million
Mother and Child Health:
Infant mortality rate per 1000 live births: 165
Under five mortality per 1000 live births: 257
Maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births: 1,700
Provinces with obstetric care: 11 of 31 provinces
Low birth weight: 20%
Children under 5 with malnutrition: 10% acute, 50 % chronic
Under fives dying from diarrhoea: 85,000 per year
• Less than 40% of Afghan children receive life-saving vaccinations
Death from tuberculosis: 15,000 per year (12-13,000 are women)
Cases of measles: Estimated 35,000 a year
Polio: 11 in 2001 (120 cases in 2000)
Malaria 2 to 3 million per year, with 6% P. falciparum
Water and Sanitation:
Access to safe water: 23% (18% rural, 43% urban)
Access to adequate sanitation: 12 % (28% rural, 6% urban)