Afghanistan, The Worst Place To Be A Mother Or A Child

Human Wrongs Watch

In spite of U.S-led military invasion since 2001 to bring “enduring freedom” and democracy, about 50 women die in childbirth each day in Afghanistan; one in three is physically or sexually abused, and the average life expectancy of women is 44 year. 

In addition, more than 85 percent of Afghan women are illiterate, while 70 % of school-age girls do not attend school for various reasons–conservative parents, lack of security, or fear for their lives.

On top of that, 41 % of these child deaths occur among newborn babies in the first month of life.

Up to 99 percent of child and maternal deaths occur in developing countries. The lives of 250,000 women and 5.5 million children could be saved each year.

These and many other spine-chilling facts, appear in Save The Children‘s new report on the State of the World’s Mothers. The following are extracts of this report:

“Enduring Freedom” for Afghanistan? | Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Death Of Newborn Babies

The most dangerous time in a child’s life is during birth and shortly thereafter.

Newborn babies – those in their first four weeks of life – account for over 40 percent of deaths among children under age 5.

Childbirth is also a very risky time for mothers in the developing world, around 50 million of whom give birth each year at home with no professional help whatsoever.

Save the Children’s eleventh annual Mothers’ Index compares the well-being of mothers and children in 160 countries –more than in any previous year.

The Mothers’ Index also provides information on an additional 13 countries, 6 of which report sufficient data to present findings on children’s indicators.When these are included, the total comes to 173 countries.

The Best Countries

Norway, Australia, Iceland and Sweden top the rankings this year.

The top 10 countries, in general, attain very high scores for mothers’ and children’s health, educational and economic status.

Afghanistan, The Worst Country To Be A Mother

Afghanistan ranks last among the 160 countries surveyed. The 10 bottom-ranked countries–seven from sub-Saharan Africa– are a reverse image of the top 10, performing poorly on all indicators.

The United States places 28th this year.

Grim Conditions 

Conditions for mothers and their children in the bottom 10 countries are grim.

On average, 1 in 23 mothers will die from pregnancy-related causes. One child in 6 dies before his or her fifth birthday, and 1 child in 3 suffers from malnutrition.

Nearly 50 percent of the population lack access to safe water and only 4 girls for every 5 boys are enrolled in primary school.

Comparing Norway And Afghanistan 

The gap in availability of maternal and child health services is especially dramatic when comparing Norway and Afghanistan.

Skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth in Norway, while only 14 percent of births are attended in Afghanistan. A typical Norwegian woman has more than 18 years of formal education and will live to be 83 years old.

Eighty-two percent are using some modern method of contraception, and only 1 in 132 will lose a child before his or her fifth birthday.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in Afghanistan, a typical woman has just over 4 years of education and will live to be only 44.

Sixteen percent of women are using modern contraception, and more than 1 child in 4 dies before his or her fifth birthday. At this rate, every mother in Afghanistan is likely to suffer the loss of a child.

Sweden, Best Place To Be A Child; Afghanistan, The Worst

Zeroing in on the children’s well-being portion of the Mothers’ Index, Sweden finishes first and Afghanistan is last out of 166 countries.

While nearly every Swedish child – girl and boy alike – enjoys good health and education, children in Afghanistan face a 1 in 4 risk of dying before age 5.

Thirty-nine percent of Afghan children are malnourished and 78 percent lack access to safe water. Only 2 girls for every 3 boys are enrolled in primary school.

Human Despair

These statistics go far beyond mere numbers.The human despair and lost opportunities represented in these numbers demand mothers everywhere be given the basic tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life for themselves, their children, and for generations to come.

Full Report:

Save The Children:

Copyright © 2011 Human Wrongs Watch

This article can be re-published, sourcing to Human Wrongs Watch:

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