President Karzai said no other nation in the world had as poor a health care system as Afghanistan. Certainly, the needs are huge and easy to see. UNICEF warns that failing to address these health and nutritional challenges will hamper any serious long-term development here. It says the health of the population is directly related to their country's reconstruction.
After years of civil war and drought, especially in the south, Afghans have scant means to support themselves. Chronic malnutrition is said to be widespread; major causes of mortality among children include diarrhoea, respiratory infections and malaria. Iodine deficiency is common in women, resulting in low birth weight and deafness in newborn babies.
What the UN is calling for is long-term investment in projects that strengthen Afghan women and children's rights to good health care. As always though, finance is the problem. In the area of maternal health, UNICEF says it has only around half the funding needed.