3rd December 2014 (for immediate release)
Save the Children calls for renewed commitment to improve the lives of Afghan children
On 4 December 2014, the British and the Afghan governments will co-host a global conference in central London, for foreign countries to confirm delivery of critical social services to Afghanistan, and for the Afghan government to renew its commitment to scale-up health and education investment for every child across the country.
The end-of-year conference comes at a critical time, since 2014 saw both the election of a new Afghan President, as well as marking the end of the international combat mission in Afghanistan.
‘Over the last decade, Afghanistan has seen enormous development gains, particularly in health and in education. But these gains are at risk of being lost if donors and implementing agencies do not ensure that development assistance is sustained,’ says Ana Locsin, Save the Children’s Afghanistan country director.
‘Afghanistan is still very reliant on the support of foreign donors to deliver basic services across the country and it is feared that the withdrawal of foreign troops may prompt possible declines in aid that could leave the country facing tough budget constraints.’
‘It is very important that donors continue to support the Basic Package of Health Services, the main channel to deliver primary health care in Afghanistan,’ adds Locsin.
Despite progress to reduce child mortality, one in ten Afghan children still die before the age of five, and skilled health personnel attend only 40% of births.
Malnutrition is also a particular concern since 59% of Afghan children face stunted growth, and malnutrition reduction measures have been very slow to take effect, according to Locsin.
‘The nutrition component of the Basic Package of Health Services needs to be fully funded. We need to bring down malnutrition rates in the coming years and the Afghan Ministry of Health needs the support of all development partners to make some significant progress.
‘Much more needs to be done,’ she warned.
Notes for Editors
Save the Children has worked in Afghanistan since 1976. We currently implement programs in 15 of 34 Provinces, either directly or through Afghan partner organisations, reaching more than 700,000 children.
Save the Children in Afghanistan works closely with society on all levels. We work with children, parents, teachers, village councils, religious leaders, ministries and other national and international development organisations. Our way of working close to people on their own terms has enabled us to deliver lasting change to tens of thousands of children in the country.
• 99 out of every 1000 children still die before their fifth birthday.
• Only 39% of births in Afghanistan are attended to by skilled health workers
• Since 2003, approx. 23,000 community health workers and 3,500 midwives have been trained as part of the Afghan government’s Basic Package of Health Services.
• 59% of children under the age of five suffer from stunting, an indicator of chronic malnutrition.
• Solutions for health financing and its sustainability need to be more thoroughly explored to gradually reduce dependency and to provide better coverage. Currently, out-of-pocket expenditures still amount to 75% of total amount spent on health.
• Out of every 100,000 live births, 400 mothers in Afghanistan lose their lives.
For interviews of Save the Children’s staff, please contact our following spokespeople:
David Skinner, Director for Education (former Save the Children’s country director in Afghanistan. Now based in London) - +44 7887 6532 64
Marjan Nahavandi, Program Development Quality Director, +93 729 458 412
firstname.lastname@example.org – Based in Kabul
Zubaida Akbar, Communications and Advocacy Manager - +93 796 88 42 73
email@example.com – Based in Kabul