Improving Maternal and Child Health Among Afghan People
January 14, 2020
An MPH alum works to create a healthier future for his country.
Jalal Maqsood, MD, Epidemiology MPH ’17, has been working on improving the health of Afghan people in Kabul, Afghanistan as a doctor for more than 12 years. To better serve his country, he decided pursing an MPH in the United States offered him the best opportunity to affect Afghan communities at large and not just individuals.
“I chose Dornsife because of their community-based approach to learning. From my experience, I believe that partnering with communities and organizations is essential to creating change,” he says.
After graduating from Dornsife in 2017, Maqsood began working as a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Specialist at USAID/Afghanistan. “My MPH degree gave me strength, confidence and the skills needed to make an impact in my country,” he says.
Many public health threats in the region persist. According to the World Food Programme, half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, and food insecurity is on the rise, largely due to conflict cutting off whole communities from employment opportunities. Additionally, 41 percent of children under the age of five are stunted.
To combat these issues in the region, Maqsood and his fellow employees are focused primarily on providing basic healthcare, nutrition services for pregnant women and children under the age of five, health system improvements, and vaccination (routine and non-routine vaccinations for children) in the country. “Afghanistan has yet to eradicate polio although the disease is vaccine preventable,” he shares. “In 2019, we saw 22 cases.”
Though many challenges lie ahead, Maqsood has witnessed many uplifting moments and celebrated public health victories. In his current role, he led an evaluation of a project which provided nutrition services to the community. “By working with individuals, especially pregnant women and children in rural areas, we gathered feedback that informed improvements to the project’s nutrition services and better suited their needs.”
Maqsood hopes to continue to work in Kabul and make a difference in the lives of its citizens. His advice for anyone considering a similar career path: “Follow your dreams with passion. When you do something with passion, success becomes inevitable.”