Twenty-three years of war and conflict has largely destroyed Afghanistan's health infrastructure. Today, one in four children dies from preventable causes before reaching the age of five. The number of women dying in childbirth is among the highest in the world, at 1,600 deaths per 100,000 live births. In the United States, this figure is approximately 12 deaths per 100,000 live births.  As Afghanistan's Ministry of Health begins to reconstruct the country's health sector, one of its top priorities is improving these maternal and child mortality rates. In December 2002, Dr.

"It was amazing! These local women stood in front of the head of the hospital and told him how they had been treated by the doctors. They told him that when they came to the hospital with their babies, the doctors said, 'You have another baby? Why did you have another one? You already had five!' The women asked the hospital director, 'Why did these doctors say this to us? Why did they blame us? Why didn't they say it to our husbands?' And the hospital director had to listen, and take notes."

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.