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Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 18:32 GMT
Afghan pregnancy death rate soars
Afghan women (AP)
Afghan women face high maternal mortality
Warnings have been issued about the soaring maternal death rates in Afghanistan after it was revealed that 50 women die each day.

The vast majority of these pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, say experts.

A spokesman for the United Nations Population Fund described the situation as "extraordinary" and "shocking".

Estimates suggest that there are as many as 1,700 pregnancy-related deaths for every 100,000 live births.

The main reason for the high death rate is a severe shortage of family planning and emergency obstetric services.

Doctor ban

In some parts of the country, including the south and southeast, reported UNPF, women cannot be treated by male doctors.

The fundamentalist Taliban barred all women from education during its five years in power.

Peter Huff-Rousselle, the head of the UNPF in Kabul, said: "In Afghanistan every day, 50 women die of complications related to pregnancy.

"Virtually all these deaths are preventable."

He added: "In my own country Canada, with a somewhat larger population, it would be a national scandal if 50 women died of these causes in a year."

Afghanistan also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world - due to lack of access to medication and treatment.

See also:

18 Jul 01 | Business
15 Jul 02 | Business
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