Health Education In The Practice of Development: Afghanistan, Child Participation and the Child-to-Child Approach
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For over thirty years Afghanistan has been challenged by war, political and civil instability, mass displacement, human rights abuses, drought, and famine. It is not surprising that health and quality of life of vulnerable groups in this region are among the worst in the world. In general, women and children have had especially limited access to education and healthcare. The situation in Afghanistan is difficult, but by no means impossible and renewed international focus combined with shifting internal dynamics provide a real opportunity to change the trajectory of the country and lives of millions of Afghans. With regard to internal dynamics, the health and education of children, I believe, provide one of the greatest opportunities for Afghanistan to build a new and peaceful path in the twenty first century. At the heart of a successful development strategy in Afghanistan will be stitching together local capabilities and resources and tailoring projects to context. Afghan children present an ideal starting ground. This thesis asks the question: how might children’s participation and the Child-to-Child approach to health education and community development be used effectively in Afghanistan? I analyze the possibilities and limitations of the Child-to-Child approach were it to be implemented in the traditional/Islamic context of Afghanistan. More broadly, I highlight external and internal forces that are affecting and will continue to shape future health intervention and development projects such as Child-to-Child in Afghanistan. I conclude that, at this time, Afghan children will receive adequate and long term health care (through initiatives such as Child-to-Child) only when essential and basic services/needs are met, geo-political conflicts between industrial nations over Afghanistan are resolved and future intervention programs are designed using culturally sensitive strategies not only to provide health services but also to address the underlying non-medical determinants of health related to Afghanistan’s development process.