Preventable diseases such as measles and diarrhoea rarely kill in Australia but in Afghanistan thousands die from them every year. Afghanistan has the worst infant and maternal mortality rates across all of Asia.
In Afghanistan, babies are most at risk of infection during the first 28 days of their life. This is when measles often strikes and because there is restricted access to clean water and sanitation, diarrhoea is common.
While Australia's infant mortality is no. 196 in the world, Afghanistan is at the top* - for both infant and maternal mortality. World Vision is fighting this through immunisation and education.
Ziba is one of a small number of Afghani mothers whose child – Asiah - has an immunisation card. She receives regular health care at World Vision’s Karokh health clinic. Asiah was born at this clinic, and has been a regular visitor ever since.
Ziba proudly shows off her daughter’s immunisation card. Asiah’s health depends on this slip of blue cardboard.
Immunisation requires sustained health care to build up immunity. Repeated booster shots are needed. For Ziba and thousands of mothers like her, being part of a long-term health program that goes beyond care to include education and community action is essential.
Through its Better Health for Afghan Mothers and Children (BHAMC) project, World Vision supports mothers like Ziba through the first 5 years of their child’s lives. BHAMC offers counselling to prepare expectant mothers for birth and follows through with nutrition training, antenatal care and immunisation programs.
Making long-term healthcare available to more mothers is key to achieving Millennium Development Goal 4 – to reduce child deaths by two-thirds. World Vision is committed to a plan of action - the Child Health Now campaign - to prevent 6 million child deaths each year.
In countries like Afghanistan this kind of action is desperately needed.
*CIA Factbook (2009 estimate)