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Integration of management of at-risk mothers and infants less than 6 months in to maternal and child health services in Afghanistan

Action Against Hunger
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Nutritional Risk in Infants under 6 months: literature review

A review of existing literature and data on the risks of undernutrition in infants under 6 months (u6m) was conducted. Searches were made on: Pubmed, Google and en.net. Key stakeholders were asked for any recent analyses and data was analysed from the National Nutrition Online Database held by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).

Infant mortality in Afghanistan

Infant mortality rates are concerning in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Health Survey (AHS) in 2018 found that infant mortality was 42 per 1,000 live births, with neonatal mortality (death in the first month of life) at 23 per 1,000 live births.

In the neonatal period, the main causes of death were preterm birth complications, sepsis/ meningitis and pneumonia. For older children between 1-59 months old, the main causes of death were diarrhoea, pneumonia and other infections. These deaths are avoidable.

Undernutrition contributed to approximately 45% of child deaths globally.ii Additionally, undernourished or non-breastfed infants are more likely to become ill with diarrhoea and pneumonia and more likely to die from the illness. Therefore, in order to reduce the risk of death and illness and support a child to thrive in their first months of life, reducing nutritional risk is a key area for intervention and is what we look at in this report.