Nipa Bannerjee, the former head of the Canadian International Development Agency in Afghanistan, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is a born-again Christian, is harming relief efforts in the country because of his religious beliefs. Speaking to the Georgia Straight, she criticized the government for intentionally leaving reproductive health out of CIDA’s programs, despite the fact that one in eight women die during childbirth in Afghanistan. “It is important to make contraception available, whereas our government’s policy is not to include reproductive health in any kind of maternal-health program,” she said. “That I consider to be a major drawback.” Other aid workers on the ground have also levied similar complaints. “The leading cause of death in Afghanistan is not bombs; it’s not bullets—it is pregnancy,” says Kieran Green, a spokesperson for CARE Canada, an aid organization that provides condoms and oral contraceptives to Afghans.
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