Women in Afghanistan: UNFPA calls for urgent funding for health care

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After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, appealed for funding last week to meet “the urgent needs of the United Nations. Afghan women and girls as a humanitarian disaster looms in the country “.

The agency said political unrest and volatility in the country as well as the suspension of funding from international donors are disrupting health services for women, leading to a deadly impact on them. The agency estimated that the situation could lead to 51,000 additional maternal deaths and 4.8 million unintended pregnancies.

UNFPA appealed for $ 29.2 million for reproductive health and protection needs to help 1.6 million women and girls. The agency said it would use the aid to increase the number of service centers, expand the services provided and provide hundreds of thousands of women and girls with essential health and hygiene supplies.

“Right now, our priority is the health and protection of nearly 4 million women and girls in urgent need of humanitarian assistance,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem .

“We must remain strong and united to save lives and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of women and girls, including their right to participate fully in all aspects of society. “

UNFPA works for a world where “every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is realized,” according to the agency.

Reproductive health care and family planning are already lacking in Afghanistan, with just 37% of women aged 15 to 49 receiving postnatal care within two days of giving birth, according to UNICEF data from 2021.

Only 59% of births are attended by skilled health personnel and the maternal mortality rate is 638 per 100,000 live births, according to UNICEF. This is more than three times the global average rate of 211 measured from 2000 to 2017.

U.S. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) treat evacuees as they pass through the Evacuation Control Center (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 28 2021 (SGT. VICTOR MANCILLA / US MARINE CORPS / DEVICE VIA REUTERS).

The prevalence of any method of contraception among Afghans was only 18.9%, according to the 2020 Human Development Reports.

Afghanistan depends on international donors to fund health care, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which said support has been declining for years. HRW also predicted that support would be influenced by the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

The impacts of this funding cut have already put the lives of Afghan women and girls at risk due to the impact on health services, according to HRW.

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