Women at a hospital in Herat last month
4 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Children's Fund says that rates of infant and maternal mortality amount to an "acute emergency" in Afghanistan.
Cecilia Lotse, UNICEF's director for South Asia, said that about 1,600 out of every 100,000 Afghan mothers die while giving birth or because of related complications. She said that about 20 percent of Afghan children die before their fifth birthday.
About 20 percent die before age 5 from diseases including diarrheal ailments, pneumonia, malaria, and typhoid. She said many deaths could be prevented through simple immunizations, better access to clean water, and improved knowledge about sanitary practices.