Afghanistan’s health system undermined

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The “Afghan-Japan” hospital in Kabul has not received any funds for several weeks. Employees work on a voluntary basis in the establishment specializing in infectious diseases and in the fight against Covid-19. The situation of this public health institution in Afghanistan is indicative of the challenges of the health sector in Afghanistan. A health system weakened by 40 years of war and almost entirely dependent on international donors.

With international sanctions weighing on the country since the Taliban took power almost a year ago, the health system is suffering more than ever from a lack of resources and reduced health coverage. Some health facilities have closed, many medical workers have resigned or left the country, leaving fewer workers trying to respond to emergencies.

The Afghan-Japanese Hospital in Kabul specializes in communicable diseases. Equipped with advanced machines, it has become the reference in the care of patients with Covid-19. The 20 beds in the intensive care unit are occupied by men and women of all ages.

Dr. Noorali Nazarzai is in charge: “ These patients are in a very critical condition, their lungs have deteriorated by 90-95%. All the oxygen they are given is through respirators. If it wasn’t for these machines, we would have lost most of these patients.. »

This doctor does not know if he will receive his salary at the end of the month, because the hospital’s coffers are empty. ” The six-month contract we had with the World Health Organization ended on July 14as director Tariq Ahmad Akbari explains. This contract was not renewed. It throws us into a state of panic and stresses all our medical staff. »

International aid finances almost 100% of the country’s public hospitals. But coordination and communication between the Taliban regime and international aid managers is sometimes complicated and has direct repercussions on the health system. ” We have been living with these tensions for a year, with the feeling that anything can happen, Tariq Ahmad Akbari continues. Perhaps staff will be laid off or our salaries reduced.. »

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Without funding from the international community, the Afghan health system would collapse. Many towns do not have access to a medical center. Afghan Red Crescent mobile clinics are deployed in several provinces. We follow Dr. Sultan Mohammad on his tour of the village of Shadkhana in Kabul province. The consultations take place on the first floor of a store under construction, dozens of women in burkas sitting on the floor on plastic mats.

A woman : ” I have pain in my eye. »

The doctor: ” is it red? »

The woman : “ No, it’s just swollen. »

The doctor: ” Can I see your eye? »

The woman : ” Nope. »

Dr. Sultan Mohammad explains: “ According to local tradition, I am not allowed to see his face, so I cannot see his eye. In the hospital we can examine women, but not here. I can only give you medication based on the symptoms you describe to me. Next to them, a nurse attends to a 10-year-old boy with a leg injury: A dog bit me three days ago. He was not attached. He jumped on top of me and bit me. »

The mobile clinic spends three days every two months in the village: “ Most people can’t afford to go to the hospital because it’s too far away. continues Dr. Sultan Mohammad. If our team didn’t come here, then they would resort to certain traditional remedies that can be dangerous. »

On that day, 300 patients will be examined free of charge in Shadkhana by doctors from the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

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