U.S. Should Continue Funding Maternal Health Programs In Afghanistan As Troop Drawdown Begins

The success of the Afghan Safe Birth Project, funded by HHS, and the Community Midwife Education program, supported by USAID, in helping reduce maternal mortality in Afghanistan “is in jeopardy – not because of security threats, but because of a fiscal one,” authors Isobel Coleman and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, both fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations, write in a Bloomberg opinion piece.

“In a classic example of short-term thinking that undermines long-term goals, the U.S. government recently eliminated the Afghan Safe Birth Project’s budget of $5.8 million. As a result, the initiative has stopped funding emergency obstetric and neonatal pharmaceuticals and supplies,” they write. “If the U.S. is serious about its commitment to increase stability and promote development in Afghanistan as it draws down troops, it should continue to support and promote maternal-health programs. Few investments provide the same lasting social, economic and even security returns – and few programs have proved as popular. … Maternal health should lead the list of those projects that meet the ‘sustainable stability’ standard,” they conclude (8/7).