6 Improve maternal health

Where are we?

UNDP Afghanistan : Reproductive health complications is a leading cause of women’s mortality, which is compounded by poor general health conditions, poor nutrition, and lack of access to safe drinking water.

The latest data available for maternal mortality is that of 2010, with the number of maternal mortality recorded was 327 reduced from its base year (2003) value of 1600 mortality rate (per 100, 000 live births). The target for 2015 which is the maternal mortality rate reduced to 320 is likely already achieved or will certainly be achieved before 2015.

The target for proportion of births attended by skilled birth attendants is likely already achieved for 2015, again while data could not be accurately verified though it is safe to assume that the target at minimum will be achieved before 2015. Over 40 percent of births are attended by skilled birth attendants relative to the 6 percent that was recorded for base year 2003.

Contraceptive prevalence rate on the other hand is very low though not to overlook the enlargement in the prevalence over the years. From as low as 5% base recorded for the base year of 2003, the prevalence has nonetheless enlarged to 21 percent recorded for 2012, though the gap between existing prevalence of contraceptive rate and target of 50 percent by 2015 seems more than Herculean task to bridge, hence progress is off-track.

Different surveys have reported the fertility rate (number of births per woman) to have declined from its original 6.2 base value with the latest data available for 2010 through Afghanistan Mortality Survey (AMS) has reported the rate to be 5.1. Fertility rate is higher in rural areas than in urban areas and the rate of 4.7 targeted for 2015 based on the decrease over the past years may be achievable. With antenatal care there has been satisfactory level of progress; the 25% and 50% targets for 2015 and 2020 respectively are already achieved, the targets for the mentioned years have been revised to 65% and 100% and progress towards the revised target for 2015 is on track.

Targets for MDG 5
  1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
    • Most maternal deaths could be avoided
    • Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care
    • The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed
  2. Achieve universal access to reproductive health & inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health
    • More women are receiving antenatal care
    • Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking
    • Only one in three rural women in developing regions receive the recommended care during pregnancy
    • Progress has stalled in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies, putting more young mothers at risk
    • Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates
    • Progress in expanding the use of contraceptives by women has slowed & use of contraception is lowest among the poorest women and those with no education