USAID remains committed to meeting the basic health needs of Afghans, particularly women and children. We support the delivery of basic health and hospital services across all 34 provinces, and work through private sector partnerships to market and distribute essential health products to Afghanistan’s most vulnerable populations.
Improving the Health of Mothers and Children
Over the last two decades, USAID has played a lead role in decreasing maternal and child deaths in Afghanistan. Working through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), a multilateral donor platform, USAID supports the delivery of basic health services to over 2,300 health facilities across the country. With a focus on providing life saving care to women and children, ARTF funds child health and routine immunization, nutrition counseling and treatment for malnutrition, tuberculosis, family planning, and reproductive health services. Through bilateral partnerships, USAID provides complementary mentorship and training to health care providers to improve access to, and quality of, basic health services - especially for women and children.
With substantial support from USAID, the number of under-five deaths in Afghanistan fell from 97 to 50 per 1,000 live births between 2010 and 2018. The percentage of pregnant women receiving antenatal care increased from approximately 15 percent in 2003 to over 60 percent in 2018. Additionally, full immunization coverage rose by over 20 percent between 2010 and 2018, and the child mortality rate is half of what it was two decades ago.
Private Sector Engagement
For almost a decade, USAID has engaged the private sector to promote and distribute essential health products to the most vulnerable Afghans. Working through a local social marketing organization, USAID promotes family planning, diarrhea prevention and management, and nutrition by distributing associated products at affordable prices. Additionally, the project supported maternal and child health through the sale of 45,515 tubes of chlorhexidine gel for umbilical cord care, and 1,096,200 tabs of iron folate to support healthy pregnancies.
Strengthening Health Systems
USAID supports two critical national surveillance systems in Afghanistan, both of which are designed to detect and respond to potential disease outbreaks and prevent epidemics. To date, Afghanistan remains one of two countries, along with Pakistan, experiencing active transmission of the wild polio virus. Through the national polio surveillance system, USAID supports detection, investigation, and response to acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), the signal condition for polio. USAID also supports the National Disease Surveillance System (NDSR). Operating from 513 sites and covering 92 percent of the country, the NDSR collects information on 16 communicable diseases, including COVID-19. By providing accurate and timely data on outbreaks, the NDSR allows for timely response and mitigation. In 2020, USAID supported the integration of COVID-19 into the NDSR, drastically reducing the wait time for availability of district-level COVID-19 case data from one week to one day.