Afghanistan health system still has a ‘long way to go’

8 Mar 18

Afghanistan has strongly improved its health outcomes despite continuing insecurity but still has a “long way to go”, the World Bank has said.

The improved health gains come as a result of expanded frontline health services and a stronger health system, the report, entitled Progress in the Face of Insecurity: Improving Health Outcomes in Afghanistan, found.

Although, it also noted Afghanistan’s health outcomes are “still far from global averages”.

Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank country director for Afghanistan, said: “Long-term focus and investment by the government of Afghanistan and many partners has moved the country forward on health, despite many challenges.

“Afghanistan still has a long way to go to ensure quality health services for all, and we look forward to be a being a partner in that effort.”

The World Bank report also concluded that despite the healthcare improvements, progress on maternal health since 2010 has slowed and data collection is difficult, especially in insecure areas.

It recommended the country’s local health service delivery become more autonomous and said there should be more investment in data and monitoring, as well as effective purchasing of health services. 

But it also concluded the number of children dying before the age of five had improved, dropping by 34% from 2003 to 2015.

Until 2010 in highly insecure provinces, the number of pregnant women seen by a health professional increased by almost 3.5% every year and the use of contraceptives and the number of birth assisted by skilled professionals each increased by 2% per year.

Tim Evans, World Bank Group’s senior director of health, nutrition and population, said: “Afghanistan’s health gains despite continuing insecurity is a story from which the world has much to learn.

 “Rather than retreating and unravelling in adverse conditions, the health system is driving forward to secure the health of all citizens – especially mothers and children – drawing on deep reservoirs of local ingenuity.”

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