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Health E-Books For Afghan Women

The Bush administration is sending talking, electronic books to Afghanistan to give women basic lessons about public health.

The concept is based on LeapPad, a top-selling line of electronic books that help children learn to read. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was to announce the program Tuesday.

The books have a small wand that can be used to touch images of everyday life in Afghanistan that are then described in Dari or Pashto, the country's two principal languages. One scene describes how to make water safe to drink, another how to give basic care to an infant.

Health clinics initially will distribute 20,000 books to Afghan women, an HHS official said Monday.

"The people of Afghanistan continue to suffer from high maternal and infant mortality rates," HHS said in a statement Monday. "By providing health information in a culturally competent manner, women's health, which had been ignored under the Taliban, can be improved throughout the region."

The program was developed jointly by HHS and LeapFrog Enterprises of Emeryville, Calif., LeapPad's maker, and paid for by a grant from the government.

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