Infant Mortality in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a pregnant woman or a young child. Infant mortality rates are the third highest in the world as of 2010, and one in 10 children in Afghanistan dies before they are five years old. The origins of such high infant mortality rates are a combination of complicated issues ranging from three continuous years of drought, lack of clean water, lack of proper medicines and treatment, lack of access to education and health care for women, estimated 10 million land mines (roughly one for every child), and only 10 percent of pregnant women receive maternal care. With the country being in war for decades, it has taken a toll on all of their resources, and the drought has made it even more complicated for mothers and their children. By improving the health of the mother, then the health of the children can be improved. Infants whose mothers die in childbirth are 3 to 10 times more likely to die before their second birthday. Many children never go to school because they must help their family make a living at a young age. With living situations difficult for an adult to live in, how could it be possible that a child survive past the age of five?

The country must first be stabilized on an international and local level. War has been going on in Afghanistan for decades with foreign countries and even war amongst their own ethnic groups. Safety and security must come first, which should be provided by the Afghanistan government. Long term goals and development are critical for the country’s long-term survival as it will help the country to become self-sufficient and sustainable. Outside of Afghanistan, it has been proven that the education of women prove to have significant success in the development of a country. Many organizations are coming in to help improve the lives of children by providing essentials such as food and safe drinking water. A supply of vaccines and antibiotics are also being brought into help treat illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, measles, diphtheria, and polio.

Dr. Patricia A. Omidian is an applied anthropologist in Afghanistan and has worked with women, children, and refugees in mental health programs, rescue committees, health programs, and children organizations. Her job is to help the Afghanistan and US/NATO military to understand local communities and reduce deaths. She firmly believes in her research and the people she studies, hoping to protect and provide a better future within the constant imbalance of power in Afghanistan and in the global setting.


“Infant and under-five mortality in Afghanistan: current estimates and limitations.” World Health Organization. Web. 10 Aug. 2012. <>.

“Afghanistan, Children in crisis.” Save the Children. Web. 10 Aug. 2012. <>.

“Patricia Omidian, Applied Antrhopologist in Afghanistan, on the Human Terrain System.” Zero Anthropology. Web. 10 Aug. 2012. <>.



1 thought on “Infant Mortality in Afghanistan

  1. After reading your post, I think the anthropologist, Dr. Patricia Omidian, used the applied approach. It sounds like she actually worked with the woman and children. There wasn’t really any more information about the work she did in your blog, but I am going to assume she collected data. The lecture slides said applied anthropology uses a number of interdisciplinary methods. Participant observation, such as actually living in the community that is being studied and socializing with the people, is another component.
    I think applying anthropology helped to understand the health problems that are going on in different parts of the world. Living in a country where we have the luxury of clean water, access to medical care, proper medicines, and a good education, we are not use to thinking in a way where people have to live without those “necessities.” It makes it easier to know how to social relations between communities affect the way they live their life. For example, if a community doesn’t get the correct education on safe sexual health, the same diseases are going to be going around, spreading from one person to the next. It is important to realize different cultures live in different ways.

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