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Questions Raised Over Accuracy Of Afghanistan Mortality Survey Data

“A U.S.-sponsored mortality survey released last year announced huge improvements in health across Afghanistan. But the gains are so great that experts are still arguing about whether it’s correct,” NPR’s All Things Considered reports. The 2011 $5 million Afghanistan Mortality Survey, which was funded by USAID with a contribution from UNICEF, showed huge gains in life expectancy and maternal and child mortality compared with data from 2004, NPR says, noting, “But believing the new numbers are accurate probably means accepting that the old numbers were way off, which makes it impossible to say exactly how much health has really improved.”

The report includes comments from Susan Brock, a USAID health adviser in Kabul; Kenneth Hill, a Harvard University demographer and technical adviser on the survey; Julia Hussein, a maternal mortality researcher from Aberdeen University; Mohammad Rasooly of the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, who led the Afghan side of the survey; and Ken Yamashita, USAID mission director in Afghanistan. Yamashita “adds that even the new, more encouraging numbers show that Afghanistan is still desperately in need of international aid to help improve the health of its people,” NPR reports (Lawrence, 1/17).

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