Ensuring Mother and Child Health Care in a Protracted Crisis: The Experience of Afghanistan

Frequently asked question


The sudden regime change in Afghanistan in August 2021, with the Taliban now leading the de-facto government, has been a major shock to the health system. Major threats to the system include the withdrawal of international funding, a massive drain of clinical and public health professionals, and concerns over the negative influence of a new government that lacks the competence to run the health systems. A further threat is the regime’s perspective on human rights that negatively affects the access to health care by women and minorities.
The SEHAT and Sehatmandi public health programmes were implemented consecutively in Afghanistan until 2021 to ensure universal access to health services and health equity, with a strong focus on maternal and child health care. With the Taliban take-over international donors withdrew development funding for these programmes and they are now being sustained in a reduced form, primarily through humanitarian funding streams.
In this session we discuss the resilience of the health system in providing universal access maternal and child health service considering three phases:
1) Absorbing the shock of the 2021 Taliban take-over
2) Adaptation of the health system in response to change, and
3) The possibilities that lie ahead to transform the health system given in the new political reality, to continue ensuring equitable access to health services, despite increasingly challenging living and working conditions for women.


  • Margo van Gurp, MSc, KIT Royal Tropical Institute

  • Abdul Majeed Siddiqi, HealthNet TPO

  • Nasrat Ansari, PhD, independent researcher, SRHR

  • Egbert Sondorp, KIT Royal Tropical Institute

  • Sandra Alba, KIT Royal Tropical Institute