Afghans see slow healthcare improvements

Child mortality rates have fallen by half since fall of Taliban but healthcare system remains overstretched.

Standards of healthcare in Afghanistan have improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban, but security continues to play a large role in determining access to and quality of care provided.

In the last 10 years, child mortality rates have fallen by half, with about one in 10 children dying before their fifth birthday.

In 2003 there were 450 health facilities, including hospitals, in the Central Asian nation. Today that number has tripled to 1,800.

But there are still variations in quality of care between rural and urban areas, while an obligation to provide treatment and medicine free of charge, rather than charging nominal fees, leaves many small clinics reliant on foreign aid.

Many procedures still require patients to travel to city hospitals, putting them at risk from violence and gruelling journeys on poorly maintained roads.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports from Pashtunzargun, in the western province of Herat.

Source: Al Jazeera