Maternal Mortality in Afghanistan: a critical review to understand strategic priorities

Afghanistan, a landlocked mountainous nation, situated strategically between Central and South Asia, has been in conflict since the Saur Revolution in 1978 when  the socialist People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Afghanistan seized  power from the then secular government (Gascoigne, 2015; BBC, 2015) . This led to a civil war between PDP, supported by the Soviet Union, and the Mujahidin, supported by the United States vide Pakistan. The vicious cycle of conflicts continued till November 2001 when the Taliban (a radical offshoot of Mujahidin) was routed out, ironically by military action of United States(BBC, 2015) .

In 2001, as multi-pronged reconstruction efforts started, it brought hopes that conflict, social upheaval, and food shortages would end(Castillo, 2013), and Afghanistan would march towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), along with the 191 other countries that had adopted it .  Among the eight ambitious MDG’s , adopted was the goal to “reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR)”(United Nations, 2015)  . Afghanistan however was accorded the unfortunate title of being the “riskiest place on earth for health of mothers” a few years back (Save The Children, 2010) .

The report aims to critically analyse maternal mortality in Afghanistan from the year 2000 to 2015. –  a period roughly corresponding to the era of US-led reconstruction action (Castillo, 2013).  

The report written for an academic purpose to analyze a post-conflict state is being released publicly on 31st August 2021 as Afghanistan potentially faces conflict again. The report, it is hoped, serves as a reminder to democratic nations that : Peace is the most important determinant of health. There is no health without human rights.

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