2001: Life expectancy at birth: 45 years
2011: Life expectancy at birth: 62 years (men); 64 years (women)
Under the Taliban, one-tenth of the Afghan population had access to basic health care. Today, according to Bergen, almost all Afghans (85 percent) have access to more and better health care. And these improvements in health-care coverage -- marked by more hospitals, clinics, and doctors around the country -- has resulted in a stunning rise in life expectancy: 18 years in a decade. (It's worth noting that there are still significant differences in health-care coverage between rural and urban areas.)
Consider this: In 2003, Afghanistan had just 450 health facilities. Today, according to the country's health ministry, there are more than 1,800. Moreover, the Guardian reports, "since 2003, about 20,000 community health workers have been trained nationwide by various groups and organizations," and the number of midwives in the country has quintupled.
Improved health care has had dramatic results for women's health in particular. When women's access to health care was restricted under the Taliban, and when there were fewer midwives and hospitals, the maternal mortality rate was 1,600 deaths per 100,000 births. By 2011, that rate had dropped by more than two-thirds, to 500 deaths per 100,000 births.
In this photo, an Afghan health worker administers a polio vaccine during a vaccination campaign in Herat on Sep. 18, 2012.