Afghanistan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates under the Taliban. (In English this means a lot of women and or their babies died in chldbirth).

Some of these deaths were due to the Taliban’s ban on female education; and the death rate was also high in refugee camps.

After the Taliban were removed, refugees streamed back to the cities and villages, and the infrastructure of that country was in ruins from years of war and neglect.

However, a recent report shows that maternal and infant deaths have fallen:

According to the preliminary results of a Johns Hopkins University study, infant mortality has declined to about 135 per 1,000 live births in 2006, from an estimated 165 per 1,000 in 2001.

The researchers “found improvements in virtually all aspects of care in almost every province,” the Public Health Ministry and World Bank said Thursday in a joint statement on the findings.

This is good news, but of course things have a long way to go.

To give a comparison, the infant mortality in Pakistan is 83 out of 1000 births.

It should be noted that that Taliban did not educate girls, and that in Muslim countries women midwives and physicians would be the rule for women. It may take years to lower the mortality to a rate similar to Pakistan, but it is hoped a combination of training local midwives, setting up clinics in villages, and encouraging family planning by spacing childbirth will lead to the rates to continue to improve.

Most Muslim countries allow family planning and it is recognized spacing children is needed to protect the health and life of women and children.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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