REACH Results in Afghanistan Shared at Global Health Conference

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (MAY 30, 2006)—A team of international health professionals from Management Sciences for Health (MSH) presented results achieved in post-conflict Afghanistan through the USAID-funded and MSH-operated Rural Expansion of Afghanistan's Community-based Healthcare (REACH) Program at the annual Global Health Council Conference in Washington, DC. An audience of over 150 attended the presentation, "Afghanistan Reborn: Transforming a Fragile Health System," which highlighted lessons learned during three years of work in Afghanistan.

Presenters shared strategies used in Afghanistan to transition health activities from an emergency to a development response, identified obstacles faced in the country's challenging environment and celebrated the REACH team effort that helped achieve the program's positive results.

Evaluation data illustrated the significant impact REACH has had on expansion of health services in Afghanistan and on women's and children's health: in the 13 provinces covered by the REACH Program, 80% of the rural population now have access to basic and hospital services, up from under 10% at project start-up. Over 3800 health service delivery points are providing access for 7.5 million people to a basic package of health services.

Findings of baseline and end-of-project household surveys were also presented at the conference. Residents of 79 rural districts covered by REACH experienced a near doubling of deliveries attended by trained health providers; a two and one-half fold increase in children who are completely immunized; and one-quarter of rural women are using modern methods of contraception.

REACH representatives, along with Jim Griffin, Senior Health Advisor for USAID/ Afghanistan, emphasized the help received from partner organizations and local and international grantees in implementing new national Afghan health policies. Working together with key stakeholders, they said, REACH has not only helped to successfully increase access to health services but also to train community and other health workers and change perceptions about general health in Afghan communities.