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An overview of Maternal Mortality Rate in Afghanistan

Women are facing many barriers accessing health care facilities and even more during particular moments of high vulnerability: pregnancies and delivery. (5) MSF reports: Afghanistan is one the most dangerous place in the word to give birth. (4)

The leading cause of death in the country is maternal mortality, having 1 in 52 dying from pregnancy related causes…(2) It is true that 40% of women who became mother had not received any antenatal care during their pregnancies. (5)

As a result, in 2015, the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR which measure the number of deaths per 100’000 live births) in Afghanistan was at 396, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Today, it is still ranked among the highest in the world and ranks the highest among countries of Asia and Pacific region (1) As a comparison, the world’s MMR in 2015 was of 216; it’s expected to lower down to 135 in 2020 (see graph).

Theses estimations are moreover concealing strong regional disparities says MSF report published in 2014. Indeed, a recent study was made by the Center for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC), UNICEF and the MoPH, in 4 provinces where the maternal mortality rate was extremely high (1600 over 100 000 births); it reveals that 40% of the women deaths could have been avoided. (3)

The postnatal cares are also very weak and women who survive face many complications like obstetrical fistula for example (3% of Afghan women). This is an example of a classical complication easily treated in others countries, that would clearly affect women’s quality of life and make them face a huge ostracism. (6)

Thanks to the government’s health policy, the population’s engagement and NGO’s implication, the MMR has decreased and should continue to do so to align with the Sustainable Development Goal. AfD helps reduce the rate further through its Midwifery Training programme and its Comprehensive Health Centre. Taking care of the health of women, mothers, newborns and children – especially in rural areas – is AfD’s goal to reduce complications leading to death.

In 2019, with a total fertility rate per woman of 4,2 / 5 (according to UNFPA), it is important to keep improving maternal and child health through programmes.

To know more about our different health programmes in relation with the issues mentioned, please visit our website:



(2) WHO, Afghanistan: country profiles; Maternal mortality in 1990-2015,

(3) “Struggle against maternal mortality in Afghanistan” UNICEF Website

(4) “Maternal mortality: a preventable crisis”, MSF report, 2012

(5) MSF report, 2018

(6) Afghanistan Demographic and Health Survey, 2015.

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