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Words in the News
Monday 07 April 2003
Afghanistan health crisis
President Karzai As countries around the world mark World Health Day, the Afghan leader Hamid Karzai has spoken about the crisis in Afghanistan's health sector. This report from Catherine Davis:
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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.

Catherine Davis, BBC News, Kabul
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to address
if you address a problem, you deal with it
relating to food and the substances in it - for example proteins, vitamins and minerals that are necessary for growth and good health
a challenge is something new and difficult which will require great effort and determination
if you hamper a person or their actions you make it difficult for them to move or make progress
scant means
a very small amount of money or possessions which is not enough to do what is needed
chronic malnutrition
long-lasting physical weakness caused by not eating enough of the right food
if you have, for example, an iodine deficiency, you do not have enough iodine
calling for
if you call for an action, you demand that it should happen
maternal is used to describe things relating to a mother
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