August 19, 2022

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Afghanistan’s health-care system is ‘on the point of collapse,’ WHO warns

In this photograph taken on March 20, 2019, an Afghan well being employee administers a polio vaccine to a toddler within the Kandahar province.

Javed Tanveer | AFP | Getty Images

Afghanistan’s health-care system is “on the brink of collapse” as a scarcity of funding left hundreds of well being services struggling to purchase medical provides and pay their employees, the World Health Organization mentioned Wednesday.

“Unless urgent action is taken, the country faces an imminent humanitarian catastrophe,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Ahmed Al-Mandhari mentioned in a statement following a go to to Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital metropolis.

The Taliban, an ultraconservative militant group, seized power in Afghanistan final month because the U.S. withdrew its army presence within the nation. Afghanistan is closely depending on worldwide funding, however many donors have suspended aid to the nation whereas the U.S. froze its Afghan financial assets.

WHO mentioned diminished donations to Afghanistan’s largest well being venture, Sehatmandi, left well being services with out medicines, medical provides, gasoline, and salaries for medical employees.

Sehatmandi is the main source of health care within the nation — it operates 2,309 medical services throughout Afghanistan that benefitted over 30 million folks in 2020.

“Many of these facilities have now reduced operations or shut down, forcing health providers to make hard decisions on who to save and who to let die,” the assertion mentioned, noting that solely 17% of the services had been absolutely practical.

Covid-19 response

Problems in Afghanistan’s health-care system have affected the nation’s response to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Nine of 37 COVID-19 hospitals have already closed, and all aspects of the COVID-19 response have dropped, including surveillance, testing, and vaccination,” WHO mentioned.

Covid vaccination charges have “decreased rapidly” in current weeks, whereas 1.8 million vaccine doses remained unused, in line with the assertion.

United Nations Childrens Emergency Fund (UNICEF) members label the cargo containing Astrazeneca Covid-19 coronavirus vaccines donated by the French authorities after it arrived on the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 8, 2021.

Wakil Kohsar | AFP | Getty Images

“Swift action is needed to use these doses in the coming weeks and work towards reaching the goal of vaccinating at least 20% of the population by the end of the year based on national targets,” mentioned WHO.

Only round 1.1% of the Afghan inhabitants has been absolutely vaccinated, in line with newest information compiled by on-line repository Our World in Data.

Other emergencies

In addition to Covid, Afghanistan faces different well being emergencies, mentioned WHO.

The nation is one among solely two on the earth the place polio remains to be prevalent, mentioned the company. Cases of untamed poliovirus circumstances have fallen to only one this 12 months from 56 in 2020, however efforts to eradicate the illness will endure because of issues dealing with the Afghan well being system, defined WHO.

Meanwhile, measles outbreaks are spreading in Afghanistan, the company added.

The United Nations mentioned Wednesday it’s releasing $45 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to “help prevent Afghanistan’s health-care system from collapse.”

“Allowing Afghanistan’s health-care delivery system to fall apart would be disastrous. People across the country would be denied access to primary health care such as emergency caesarian sections and trauma care,” mentioned Martin Griffiths, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency aid coordinator.

Impact on ladies

Problems in Afghanistan’s health-care system pose a specific threat to ladies within the nation.

With fewer health-care services working and fewer feminine medical employees reporting to work, feminine sufferers are hesitant to hunt medical consideration, mentioned WHO.

While ladies within the public well being sector have been requested to return to their jobs, many are understandably frightened of coping with Taliban militants, particularly now that that there is no such thing as a governing system in place to supply them any safety.

Samira Hamidi

Humanitarian Campaigner, Amnesty International

Samira Hamidi, Amnesty International’s South Asia campaigner, mentioned that ladies within the nation really feel insecure as they do not belief the Taliban.

“While women in the public health sector have been asked to return to their jobs, many are understandably scared of dealing with Taliban militants, especially now that that there is no governing system in place to offer them any protection,” she informed CNBC.

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