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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686

Bull World Health Organ vol.80 n.4 Genebra Jan. 2002 

WHO seeks major support for reconstruction of Afghan health services

WHO is seeking US$ 60 million to support the Afghan Ministry of Health in developing a health system for the country. This is part of a US$ 129 million appeal to international donors by WHO, UNICEF and nongovernmental organizations for immediate reconstruction activities in Afghanistan and support for refugees in neighbouring countries.

"Developing a functional health care system must be a top priority in the reconstruction of Afghanistan", said Dr Mohammed Jama, WHO's Regional Coordinator for the Afghan crisis. "As long as hundreds and thousands of Afghans continue to die from preventable diseases, a stable future for the country cannot be guaranteed."

As a result of many years of conflict, Afghanistan's public health profile is one of the poorest in the world. In a population of 27 million, 16 000 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes, 6 million Afghans have no access to medical care, and life expectancy is 46 years. WHO is proposing a package of essential health services based on the primary health care approach, to reduce the current high rates of illness and death. Malaria and tuberculosis between them kill over half a million Afghans a year. The main aims at present are to extend existing programmes for the control of these and other communicable diseases, make motherhood safer, and promote the integrated management of childhood illnesses.