UNICEF: Afghanistan makes progress in reducing child mortality

Kabul, January 22, 2008 (Xinhua): The post-Taliban Afghanistan has made significant progress in bringing down the child mortality over the past six years, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced here Tuesday.

"Afghanistan has made tremendous progress on child survival," said Dan Toole, the UNICEF regional director for South Asia, while addressing a function featuring the launch of the agency's State of the World's Children in 2008 report.

The latest data indicates that Afghanistan has managed to reduce its under-five children mortality by 25 percent since 2001,Toole said.

However, he stressed that there is a long way for Afghanistan to go to further improve the status of children in the war-torn country, saying "Afghanistan has the second maternity mortality and third child mortality in the world."

The two other countries having the highest rate of child mortality in 2006, according to the UNICEF report, were Sierra Leone and Angola in Africa.

Improving in health sector and reducing in child mortality were indications of the political will of the Afghan government to improve health service, water supply and education, the UN official said.

Moreover, he added that still some 600 children die in Afghanistan every day from curable diseases.

Only 5 million out of the whole 31 million population of the Central Asian country have access to safe drinking water and 2.6 million out of the population have access to safe sanitation, according to the official.

The UNICEF regional chief said his agency spent 77 million U.S. dollars in Afghanistan in 2007 while this year it would spend 82 million U.S. dollars.

"We have been able to reduce child death by 35 percent since 1982," Toole said, commenting on the state of children in the globe. "Some 40,000 children died every day or 15 million per year in 1982 while today about 27,000 per day or less then 10 million per year die."

He said child mortality in South Asian countries has been reduced by more than 50 percent since 1990, which indicates a credibly important progress.

Six years after the fall of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan saw its reconstruction work steadily on track despite various security problems arising from mounting Taliban insurgency.