Before 9/11, when the Taliban were still a concern to people of all good will, I remember seeing news reports and hearing stories about the horrors of life for women under the Taliban. They were, quite literally, trapped in their homes, unable to go out even fully covered. A logical by-product was a high child mortality rate, both because mothers could not get them to medical care (not to mention the fact that the medical population had dropped when women were barred from practicing) and because mothers, imprisoned in small quarters with too many small children committed acts of child brutality that often resulted in the child’s death.
So it was without surprise that I read a Reuter’s report saying that, since the US invasion, child mortality in Afghanistan has dropped by 25 percent:
Child mortality has dropped by 25 percent in Afghanistan since the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001, meaning that 89,000 more children survive each year, the Afghan Health Ministry said on Sunday.
After nearly three decades of war, Afghanistan’s health indicators are among the worst in the world, but Afghan government and international efforts are beginning to bear fruit, with healthcare reaching 85 percent of the population.
The number of children dying before the age of five had dropped from an estimated 257 per 1,000 in 2001, to 191 in 2006, according to a survey conducted by Johns Hopkins University, quoted by the ministry.
“One of the Afghanistan’s biggest miseries has been the death of children at a young age due to the lack of health facilities and equipment,” President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday.
“I am thankful to all the health service organisations and the international community from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “This is the biggest happiness in Afghanistan — that we are now able to keep 89,000 children alive.”