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GlobalPost Examines Maternal, Child Health In Afghanistan

“A report [.pdf] on Afghanistan backed by UNICEF shows the country still has leaps and bounds to go in the areas of maternal and child health and education,” GlobalPost’s “Rights” blog reports. “Nearly 46 percent of women between ages 20 and 24 gave birth to a child before their eighteenth birthday in the Western regions of Afghanistan, and one in four women in the country overall delivered a live birth before reaching adulthood,” the report states, according to the blog. “‘Alarmingly, two percent have had a live birth before the age of 15,’ says the report,” the blog writes, adding, “These women were child brides, sold or given to husbands before reaching maturity. The practice is illegal in Afghanistan, but the tradition remains firmly implanted in certain rural tribal regions of the country to the detriment of both mothers and children.”

“The biggest disparities exist between women in rural versus urban areas, and those with some education, as opposed to those women with none, showing that as education of women increases, so does their health and that of their children, while the likelihood of giving birth before age 18 decreases,” the blog notes. “Contraception and family planning is an area where a marked difference can be seen between rich and poor women,” it continues, adding, “According to the World Health Organization, ‘global estimates are that up to 35 percent of maternal deaths could be averted by preventing unintended pregnancies’ in Afghanistan,” and, “although change is slow …, modern contraception use is increasing” (Pearlman, 9/6).

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