The Sydney Morning Herald, April 27, 2006

Afghanistan facing 'major health crisis'

RAWA member giving lecture at the Bob Hawke prime Ministerial Center in Adelaide

Afghanistan is facing a health crisis larger than that experienced by Asian countries after the 2004 tsunami, an Adelaide forum has heard.

Mariam Rawi, a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), has told the forum that despite Afghanistan receiving billions of dollars in aid, little has been done to address the country's lack of health services.

"(Afghanistan) is a land that is facing (a) health disaster worse than (the) tsunami," Ms Rawi told a lecture at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre in Adelaide.

"Seven hundred children and 50 to 70 women die on (a) daily basis due to the lack of health services.

"Ironically, this is happening in a country that has received $12 billion in aid.

"Even a fraction of this aid has not been used for the benefit and welfare of our people ... if $1 billion of the aid reaching Afghanistan was spent honestly to benefit people, Afghanistan's features would have changed," she said.

Ms Rawi said RAWA, established in Kabul in 1977, had sought to promote women's rights through running schools, orphanages, mobile healthcare units and adult literacy classes.

She said while the association had experienced some success, there was still a long way to go, adding women were treated "worse than cattle".

"In Afghanistan, as one of the most backward and traditional countries of the world, women's rights have always been ignored and they were subjected to every kind of horrible male chauvinism," she said.

"In short, women are discriminated in society in every aspect."

İAAP 2006


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