Stories

Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. In South Africa, women are more likely to die of tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, or other infectious disease than are men. Between 2000 and 2005, the United Nations estimates that half of the deaths of children below the age of five will be due to AIDS.Across South Africa, those involved in health care are struggling to improve health services for women and children and prevent these needless deaths.

The Disease with No NameOn October 25, 2002, 26-year old Zanele Mavana is slowly dying in her home in a rural village of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Her three children, ages 10, 8, and 4, watch as their mother's bones become more visible. She no longer has the strength to get out of bed; her diarrhea has stained the sheets as she waits helplessly for someone to clean her. To reach the nearest hospital, she would have to walk for hours, first through the open, hilly field surrounding her home, followed by mud roads, then gravel roads, and finally a tarred road.

As Mohammad Afzal approached the health facility, located on a long, dirt road in a southwestern province of Afghanistan, he saw the darkness inside. Like so many he had visited before, the clinic does not have electricity or running water. He passes the large group of women sitting outside with children in their arms, trying to shield themselves from the hot summer sun.

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