WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
OFFICE AT THE EUROPEAN UNION
14, RUE MONTOYER - BRUXELLES
TEL: (02) 506 46 62 - FAX: (02) 506 46 66

Press Release No 01

23 January 2002

 

 

BARONESS NICHOLSON: HEALTH CRUCIAL IN AFGHANISTAN’S RECONSTRUCTION

 

"Health is a fundamental building block for the reconstruction of Afghanistan," Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne said on her return from the Tokyo Donors Conference on Afghanistan. Baroness Nicholson represented the World Health Organization (WHO) at the Tokyo meeting.

"Unless the health sector is properly supported, the entire recovery of Afghanistan could be undermined", Baroness Nicholson stressed. "The Afghan people deserve a chance to provide a healthy and long life for their children and future generations".

Baroness Nicholson explained that WHO has been calling for an immediate $60 million to assist the newly formed Afghan Ministry of Health to design and implement key public health programmes including immunizations, diarrhoeal disease, tuberculosis, malaria control and safe motherhood. She mentioned that she had a long and fruitful meeting with Afghanistan's Health Minister in Tokyo.

WHO backed its assessment with the findings of an expert Commission which last month concluded that investments in health are a prerequisite for social and economic development. The Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, which was chaired by Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs and included several former finance ministers and Nobel price winners, concluded that scaled-up investments in health will give a six-fold economic return in the form of increased economic growth.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Baroness Nicholson emphasized that six million Afghans have very little or no access to medical care, that every day 45 women die of pregnancy related causes, resulting in more than 16,000 deaths each year, and that one-fourth of Afghan children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthdays. Diseases that have been brought under control in most parts of the world continue to ravage Afghanistan, which is also facing a staggering mental health crisis caused by more than two decades of violence, human rights abuses and displacement.

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For more information, please contact Philippe Stroot, Information and External relations, WHO Office at the European Union. Tél : (32 2) 506 46 62, Fax : (32 2) 506 46 66. E-mail : strootp@who-eu.be