BackgroundThe recently published Afghanistan Mortality Survey 2010 (AMS, 2010) and Afghanistan Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey (AMICS) 2010/11 show that the health situation in Afghanistan has improved considerably in the last few years; this can be attributed to the strong commitment and leadership of the Government and concerted efforts of various aid and development agencies and community based organizations.
Although many interventions exist to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, the fact remains that families and communities often do not access care or practice preventive behaviours for a variety of cultural, financial, and societal reasons. The recent Afghanistan Mortality Survey (AMS) indicates the need to educate women about the importance of seeking care. According to the AMS, four in ten (41 per cent) women who did not receive ANC felt it was not necessary to seek such care. Similarly, 35 per cent of women who did not deliver the most recent birth in a health facility said that a facility delivery was not necessary. For interventions to work, mothers and families need to know and understand the availability of services as well as be able to afford them.
In order to promote healthy behaviors of the community, behavior change strategy is a fundamental building block. Strategic behavior change communication helps in overcoming some of these challenges by creating demand for and sustained use of the services. Currently, various projects and programmes of MoPH use different messages and materials for improving RNMCH situation in the country. However, MoPH does not have a unified communication plan; therefore, a comprehensive social mobilization and communication strategic plan for MNCH and other RH related issues need to be developed and rolled out. Through this position, a comprehensive National Social Mobilization and Communication Strategic Plan and its associated Provincial Communication Action Plans for five provinces (Kandahar, Uruzgan, Helmand, Bamyan and Badghis) will be developed and implemented.