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Maternal Health in Afghanistan

A CFR Working Paper

Authors: Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative; Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, and , Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy

Maternal Health in Afghanistan - maternal-health-in-afghanistan

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date September 2011

16 pages


In this Working Paper, Isobel Coleman and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argue that continued U.S. investment in maternal health should be part of a responsible drawdown in Afghanistan. Through a host of interventions, the United States has already laid the critical building blocks to reduce Afghanistan's staggering maternal mortality ratio and the potential to further improve maternal health in Afghanistan in a cost-effective manner is considerable. Realizing these gains in coming years will produce myriad benefits, not only for public health, but also for women's empowerment, economic development, security, and stability. Maternal health investments save lives and are a cost-efficient way to improve the overall health of the country. Because health care is one of the few interactions that Afghan citizens have with their government, improving delivery of health-care services could be a stabilizing factor in a country that will continue to face severe security challenges from antigovernment forces. Maternal health also enjoys broad community support and has the added benefit of empowering women, an important dimension in a society in which biases against women still run strong and a resurgent Taliban threatens women's gains of recent years.



Study Group Members

Nasratullah Ansari, Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University

Linda A. Bartlett, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Susan Brock, USAID Afghanistan

Denise Byrd, Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University

Ibrahim Parvanta, CTS Global, Inc., assigned to the CDC

Mary Ellen Stanton, U.S. Agency for International Development

More About This Publication

Isobel Coleman is a senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where she directs the Women and Foreign Policy program and the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy initiative. She is the author of numerous publications, including the critically acclaimed book Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East. Prior to joining CFR, Coleman was CEO of a health-care services company and a partner with McKinsey & Co. in New York. A Marshall scholar, she holds a BA in public policy and East Asian studies from Princeton University and MPhil and DPhil degrees in international relations from Oxford University.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the deputy director of CFR's Women and Foreign Policy program. She is the author of the New York Times best seller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and a contributing editor at large to Newsweek/Daily Beast. Prior to joining CFR, Lemmon covered public policy and emerging markets for the global investment firm PIMCO, after working for nearly a decade as a journalist with the ABC News political unit and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Lemmon has reported on entrepreneurs in conflict and postconflict regions for various publications, including the Financial Times, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Daily Beast, and Christian Science Monitor. A Fulbright recipient and Robert Bosch Foundation fellow, Lemmon earned a BA in journalism from the University of Missouri and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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