The Afghan well being system threatens to break down, support organizations warn | Well being information
Afghanistan’s health system is in danger of collapsing, two major aid organizations told Reuters after foreign donors stopped helping after the Taliban came to power.
After the US withdrew most of its remaining troops last month, the Taliban accelerated their military campaign and took control of the capital Kabul on August 15.
International donors, including the World Bank and the European Union, stopped funding Afghanistan shortly afterwards.
“One of the big risks for the health system here is basically to collapse due to a lack of support,” said Filipe Ribeiro, Afghanistan representative for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), one of the largest medical aid organizations in Switzerland.
“The entire health system in Afghanistan has been understaffed, inadequately equipped and underfunded for years. And the big risk is that this underfunding will persist over time. “
Necephor Mghendi, Afghan head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), said the health system – which is already fragile and heavily dependent on foreign aid – is under additional strain.
“The humanitarian need on the ground is enormous,” he said.
Both aid agencies said that while their ground operations were largely unaffected, demand had increased significantly as other facilities were not fully operational.
Mghendi said the closure of Afghan banks left almost all humanitarian organizations unable to access funds, leaving sellers and employees unpaid.
To make matters worse, medical supplies now have to be replenished earlier than expected.
“Supplies that should last for three months will not last three months. We may have to replenish much earlier, ”said Mghendi.
Ribeiro said MSF had medical supplies on hand before the takeover, but given the disrupted flights and disorderly land borders, it is unclear when more could reach the country.
Delivery of health goods arrives
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday that a plane carrying 12.5 tons of medicines and health supplies had landed in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, the first such shipment since the Taliban came to power.
WHO said the plane, which flew out of Dubai, will serve 40 health facilities in 29 provinces across the country.
Supplies – including trauma and emergency kits – are enough to meet the basic needs of more than 200,000 people, enable 3,500 surgical procedures and treat 6,500 trauma patients, the WHO added.
“After working non-stop for days to find a solution … we have now partially replenished the stocks of health facilities in Afghanistan,” said Ahmed al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
“Humanitarian organizations like WHO have faced enormous challenges in recent weeks to send life-saving aid to Afghanistan due to security and logistics restrictions,” added al-Mandhari.
He also thanked Pakistan for making the plane available for delivery.
It was the first of three scheduled flights with Pakistan International Airlines, and WHO said it was working to ensure “delivery this week is the first of many”.
The report by Rob McBride of Al Jazeera in Kabul said the flight from Dubai “opens up the greater potential for flight routes to Afghanistan.
“Mazar-i-Sharif is a big, important city in the north, it has a big, important airport. There were international flights there before the government collapse, this is confirmation that they have restored air traffic control, which seems to pave the way for Kabul, ”said McBride.
“As soon as the US leaves, they will take air traffic control with them and the Taliban will not only have the task of restoring the airport, but also their air traffic control.
“It offers a way forward that it seems everyone here wants to see – the government, the charities, and of course the people – because that would mean the return of commercial flights,” said McBride.
The WHO has warned that Afghanistan could soon face a shortage of medical staff as workers flee the country and female health workers stay away from work for fear, among other things.
During their reign from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban had a troubled relationship with foreign aid organizations and eventually expelled many, including Doctors Without Borders, in 1998.
This time around, the group has stated that it welcomes foreign donors and will protect the rights of foreign and local workers – a commitment that has been honored so far, said Ribeiro.
“They are actually asking us to stay, and they have asked us to continue our business as we did before,” he said. “Relationships have been pretty comforting so far.”