Afghanistan Makes Huge Gains in Key Health Indicators, Sees Surge in Female Health Workforce: World Bank

The World Bank in their latest infographic regarding health outcomes in Afghanistan notes that the country has made strong and continued progress in the sector of health, especially for women and children, over the last 15 years despite continuing insecurity by establishing and innovating a large-scale partnership model with NGOs for service delivery.

The report titled “Progress in the Face of Insecurity: Improving Health Outcomes in Afghanistan”, finds that such health gains have been underpinned by expanded health services and a stronger health system even in highly insecure provinces, which has been especially important for the health of mothers and children.

These improvements were noted to be larger than in more secure provinces in the country. However, rising insecurity since 2010 has slowed some of these gains, the report warns.

Number of children dying before their 5th birthday has been reduced by 34%, the World Bank estimates. Additionally childhood stunting has reduced by 2% and maternal mortality rate has reduced by an impressive 64%. The figures are estimated in comparison with 2003 figures.

Health systems have become stronger, but the progress is not consistent. The good thing is that Afghanistan has done as well or better than similarly situated countries and regions, World Bank notes.

What was a strong factor in such progress? The report points out that the country’s innovative approach to health system has been ‘central to its success’. NGOs, apart from the national government, have been instrumental in health service delivery in even remote and insecure regions. Moreover, the government has provisions for a good regulatory framework, health campaigns, and coordination finances efficiently.

Impressively, the Report notes that there is a growing majority female health workforce which is a very good avenue of work for women in rural areas.

The gaps identified in an otherwise progressive performance, was the number of children under 5 who are dying.

The key takeaway thus, has been that not only has he country invested properly in health sector, but it has reaped benefits while having an inclusive and good workforce.

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