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Hameeda Hameed 1 , Pat Karzai 2 , Ellyn Cavanagh 3 , Mahmood Sori 4. 1, 2 & 4 Afghans For Civil Society 3)Georgetown University, ACS medical consultant. Data Results

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Distribution of Vitamins and Nutrition Education Materials to the Women and Children of Afghanistan

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distribution of vitamins and nutrition education materials to the women and children of afghanistan

Hameeda Hameed1, Pat Karzai2, Ellyn Cavanagh3, Mahmood Sori4

1, 2 & 4 Afghans For Civil Society 3)Georgetown University, ACS medical consultant

Data Results

Graph 1 indicates that as the age of the children increases there is noticeable increase in body weight, however the overall heights did not increase as rapidly as did the body weights. The youngest child to be analyzed was 2 years of age with a body weight of 25lbs and was 27inches in height. The oldest child was 15 years in age with a body weight of 8lbs and was 56 inches in height. The tallest child was 57 inches in height was 13 years of age and had a body weight of 105lbs.

provinces.Graph 2 indicates that within this study the youngest women were the most likely to become pregnant and also the most likely to experience a miscarriage. The average marriage age of the women in this study was 15.4. As the overall age of the women increases the likelihood of pregnancy decreases, as well as the likelihood of miscarriages.


Southern Afghanistan is experiencing large numbers of birth defects, infant mortality rates and overall lack of proper nutrition. The violence that still lingers in southern Afghanistan has made it increasingly difficult for NGOs and other organizations to educate and distribute materials aimed at enhancing the health of the local citizens. Afghans for Civil Society (ACS) has funded the purchasing of pharmaceuticals and educational materials in order to reach out to the women and children in southern Afghanistan who remain at risk.The women of southern Afghanistan face extremely harsh conditions to this day. They are second-class citizens and have little to no rights. ACS data from the latest survey indicate that the average age of marriage in southern Afghanistan is 13, the youngest of whom was five years old. All of them are married to men of or over middle age. In order to ensure the success of the vitamin and nutrition program, ACS sent trained professionals and students into Afghanistan to personally take charge of the project. Hameeda Hameed was sent by ACS to southern Afghanistan to distribute multivitamins for women as well as vitamin B12 (folic acid) to married girls and expecting mothers. ACS was able to bring the multivitamins and folic acid to 104 women and 93 children. The method of distribution was door to door and word of mouth. The majority of vitamins were provided by Vitamin Relief. The nutritional education materials were provided by UNICEF. These included charts showing how to practice disease prevention and proper cooking methods. Because of the high illiteracy rate in Afghanistan, education was achieved through pictures. ACS also utilized verbal education, emphasizing the importance of proper diet and nutrition.

The majority of southern Afghan women and children who received the multivitamins, folic acid supplies and nutritional education stated that their health had improved and that they were practicing the disease prevention and proper cooking techniques they had learned.

Although the vitamin distribution and nutrition education program was successful, ACS will need support and assistance from other NGOs and groups to expand the program. With more help from outside funds, pharmaceutical donations, and health and nutritional health materials, ACS will be able to improve the health of women and children in the southern Afghan provinces.

Distribution of Vitamins and Nutrition Education Materials to the Women and Children of Afghanistan

  • Conclusion
  • The average number of child mortality in Kandahar is 2 children per woman.
  • The average age of marriage is 15.4 for the women in this study, the average age of women is 30 years old.
  • We believe that the young age of the women at the time of marriage as well as pregnancy along with illiteracy, lack of essential nutrients and a dilapidated public health system are the leading causes of the high child mortality rate within Kandahar.
  • The average 4 year old child residing in the United States is 40 inches in height and has a body weight of about 40lbs. In contrast, we found in our study 8 year old children with heights of about 41 inches and body weights of 37lbs.
  • The skeletal growth of the children in our study indicates that they are suffering from skeletal growth deficiencies. Also, we observed that due to the lack of proper nutrient availability it was common for the children, as early as breast feeding age, to be given black tea for sustenance
  • The children are also prone to fall victim to curable and treatable diseases due to the lack of proper nutrition and sanitation.
  • Based on our observations and data gathering we conclude that if given the proper nutritional supplements such as vitamins as well as nutrition education the women and children of Kandahar are willing to take part.
  • Our vitamin distribution program indicated to us the willingness, as well as eagerness, of Kandahari women to better their health and the health of their offspring.
  • Due to our finite supply of nutritional supplements, education materials, and trained personnel we are unable to engage in a prolong research project that would allow us to realize the long term implications of our vitamin distribution and nutritional education programs.
  • Via our programs we have been successful in bringing health education and minor treatment to a very small portion of the Kandahari women, however the problems we have noticed in our study are amplified throughout Kandahar as well as the greater Southern Afghan

Graph 1


Afghanistan, where you see life in its simplest form, people have seen violence and brutality on such a large scale that they have been unable to consider things such as proper nutrition, personal hygiene, and education which are given priority in a developed country. Kandahar, one of the Southern provinces of Afghanistan, is no exception to the problems that the people of Afghanistan face, in fact in many ways it is much worse off than the rest of the country. The population that has suffered the most in the Kandahar province due to the instability of the recent decades is the women and children. Afghans for Civil Society (ACS) is actively trying to seeking solutions to improve the lives of the women and children of Kandahar by providing vitamins, nutritional education, and other resources at the local Kandahar ACS office.

The lack of proper nutrition, nutritional education, and cultural attitude of the region has left women vulnerable to extremely poor health and in severe cases even death. Due to the lack of a stable economy in Kandahar many family are unable to purchase foods that would be beneficial to their health, they lack the most basic and essential nutritional products such as vitamins, proteins, simple and complex carbohydrates, and clean water. It is our understanding that lack of these essential foods in the normal diet of the women of Kandahar is correlated to the prenatal and postnatal complications, the increase in stillborn births, birth abnormalities, and in some cases death of the mother during labor.

The children of Kandahar are also impacted by the lack of proper nutrition. As with the women the children also suffer from the lack of essential food products in their diets, hence their normal mental and physical development is greatly affected. The necessary vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and clean water are usually beyond the financial reach of many families which again suggests a strong correlation between the lack of nutritional food products and the poor health of the children of Kandahar.

Cultural attitude also affects the nutrition of the women and children of Kandahar. Women in Kandahar are under great cultural pressure to marry at a young age, be the second or third wife, and abstain from outdoor activities. The strict conservatism of the region has not allowed the women to get basic education let alone nutritional education. These factors have left women vulnerable to exposing themselves to unhealthy and improper diets as well as being unaware of means of becoming healthy, if economically possible.

The primary goal of ACS is to not only provide vitamins and nutritional education but also raise awareness of the serious problems that the women and children of Kandahar face on a daily basis. By this research ACS is attempting to decrease the vulnerability of the women and children of Kandahar by implementing programs that address basic nutritional needs and education. As it has been done in recent history, if the women and children of Kandahar are forgotten by the international community the problems they face will continue to get worse, based on our grass roots attempts at improving the lives of the women and children of Kandahar ACS has seen great results and if the international community heeds the call to help this vulnerable population it can be done quickly and efficiently, and save the lives of the forsaken women and children of Kandahar.


1)Barakat, S. (2002). Setting the scene for Afghanistan’s reconstruction; the challenges and critical dilemmas. Third World Quarterly. 23:5, 801-816.

2)Bhutta, Z., Gupta, I., de’Silva,H., Manandhar,D., Awasthi,S., Hossain,S., Salam, M. (2004). Maternal and child health: Is South Asia ready for change ? British Medical Journal. 328. 816-819.

Cohen, J. (2006) The new world of global health. Science. 311, 162-167

3)Costello, A., Osrin, D., Manandhar, D. (2004). Reducing maternal and neonatal mortality in the poorest communities. British Medical Journal. 329. 1166-2268.

4)Dott, M.M., Orakail, N., Ebadi, H., Hernandez, F., MacFarlane, K., Riley, P., Prepas, R., McCarthy, B. (2005). Implementing a facility-based maternal and perinatal health care surveillance system in Afghanistan. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 50: 4, 296-300.

5)Reilly, B., Puertas, G., Coutin, A. (2004). The battle for access-health care in Afghanistan. New England Journal of Medicine. 350, 1927-1929.

6)van Egmond, K., Naeem, A.J., Verstraelen, H., Bosmans, M., Claeys, P., Temmerman. (2004). Reproductive health in Afghanistan: Results of a knowledge, attitudes and practices survey among Afghan women in Kabul. Disasters, 28:3, 269-282.

7)Wimmer, A. & Schetter, C. (2003). Putting state-formation first: some recommendations for reconstruction and peace making in Afghanistan. Journal of International Development. 15, 529-539.

8)www.afghan.smugmug.com (my personal collection of photographs from Afghanistan)

Need to know

Dr. Sayed Mohammad Amin Fatimie, Minister of Public Health

American Embassy in Kabul http:/www:.usembassy.state.gov/afghanistan/wwwhmain.html

Afghanistan Embassy in United States-need visa http://www.embassyofafghanistan.org/ 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008 (202) 483-6410


2002-2005, US spent $182 million on strengthening Afghan health sector.

Only about nine percent of Afghan women have access to a trained birth attendant; one woman dies every 27 minutes from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

After the fall of the Taliban, there were 467 midwives in country, 2003-04 produced 71, May 2005 graduated 230 more. The end of 2005 projected a total of 830 midwives.

Graph 2


Utilizing women’s focus groups at the ACS centers in Kandahar.

Visits house to house and speak with women and children.

Vitamin distribution.

Attaining demographic data such as age, body weight, height, time of marriage, pregnancy information.