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Infant Mortality Spikes in Afghanistan as Officials Say 13,000+ Newborns Have Died Since January

The Afghan government has estimated that more than 13,000 newborns have died in the country so far this year—just six months after the US withdrew humanitarian aid, seized official bank accounts and sanctioned the new regime in Kabul.

Health Ministry spokesman Jawid Hazher “expressed alarm” over the growing crisis last week, saying there have been about 124,800 premature births in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2022 alone.

“Normally 10% of these children die,” he added, “so, as an estimate, 13,700 of these children died” since January.

While Hazher said economic factors such as malnutrition are driving the surge in deaths among mothers and babies, poor diets may not explain everything. Malalai Rahimi, who heads up a maternity hospital in Kabul, told Tolo News that health facilities have struggled “to get the required equipment” and medical staff, noting that midwives and doctors aren’t available in every district, and that some provinces even lack “a modern hospital.”

Though the latest estimate on infant mortality comes from the Taliban’s Health Ministry, international aid groups have painted a similarly dire picture for Afghanistan, some warning of the collapse of its healthcare system for months.

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