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CASE STUDY: MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH SERVICES IN AFGHANISTAN AMID LONG-TERM CONFLICT

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Researchers from Aga Khan University and the Hospital for Sick Children explored the impact of conflict on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition services in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2015.

With respect to breastfeeding (early initiation, exclusivity and continuation), they found there was progress from 2003 until 2010. Yet that progress declined through 2015, as the delivery of health services was compromised by escalating conflict and poor capacity of the healthcare system, including inadequate infrastructure, lack of healthcare professionals and poor monitoring and collaboration platforms.

The authors noted a lack of emphasis on increased breastfeeding awareness and related practices. To resume earlier advances, they recommended initiating “programs solely focusing on improving infant and young child feeding practices in order to prevent undernutrition and reduce childhood morbidity and mortality”.

Details, including how different regions were affected according to the severity of conflict, are in this BMC journal Conflict and Health open access article: ‘Impact of conflict on maternal and child health service delivery: a country case study of Afghanistan’.

The case study was led by researchers at Aga Khan University and the Hospital for Sick Children, with support from the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation. It is one of a series (‘Delivering health and nutrition interventions for women and children in conflict settings: country case studies from the BRANCH Consortium’) made available for open access by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.