Society and norms – Medicinal and Healing Practices: Health Care System

Viewpoints

Watch this video by the American Forces Network to see how American troops are helping to improve health care.

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Afghanistan’s health care system was decimated during the decades of conflict, but a coordinated effort by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Health and the international community is making progress.  For instance, some 670 health care facilities have been built or remodeled since the arrival of coalition forces.  However, facilities still lack trained staff, medical supplies and equipment. Patients are often required to provide their own medical supplies; disposables are often reused, and patients may be required to share beds.

Life expectancy among Afghans is 35 years. Maternal, infant and under-5 mortality rates are some of the highest in the world.[7] There is a high incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases, and tuberculosis and malaria are serious health risks. Mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression are serious and widespread throughout the nation.

Afghans who live in the mountainous interior are often two days’ walk from the major hospitals or clinics, and rely on herbalists and midwives for much of their care. However, the work of U.S. military and other non-government organizations is helping to turn the tide in Afghanistan’s health care situation by building mobile health facilities and food distribution stations.

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