KABUL, Afghanistan -- Despite billions in international aid, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest nations in the world. Its high infant mortality rate is evidence that life remains hard for the Afghan people from the moment of birth.
The infant mortality rate is considered an important indicator of a country's level of health or development.
In Afghanistan, now in its 10th year of war, care for pregnant women has improved. Yet many births still occur at home or in poorly equipped medical facilities, jeopardizing the health of both mother and child, especially if there are complications during and after childbirth.
Afghanistan has an infant mortality rate of an estimated 129 deaths per 1,000 births, according to statistics cited by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.
Moreover, Afghan children die before reaching age 5 at a rate of 191 for every 1,000 births.
While still one of the highest in the world, Afghanistan's infant mortality rate is falling.
Hundreds of midwives have been trained, and access to basic health care has increased with the construction of more clinics built with foreign aid.