More than 2,000 health facilities closed in Afghanistan, says Red Cross – Journal

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KABUL: The Afghan health system is on the verge of collapse, a senior Red Cross official warned on Thursday, saying more than 2,000 health facilities had been closed across the conflict-ravaged country.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned that a dire lack of funding is pushing the Afghan health system to the brink of collapse.

“People could agree to work without pay for a few more weeks,” Alexander Matheou, IFRC director for the Asia-Pacific region, said at a press conference in Kabul.

“But once the drugs are totally used up, if you can’t turn on the lights, if you have nothing to offer someone who comes to your clinic, then they’ll close the doors.” Devastated by more than four decades of war, the Afghan economy has come to a virtual standstill since the Taliban took control last month, amid sanctions and an interruption in foreign aid.

This had a particularly heavy impact on the health sector, which was mainly run by NGOs with internal funding before the Taliban came to power.

“More than 2,000 health facilities have closed,” said Matheou after a four-day visit to Afghanistan.

More than 20,000 health workers in the country were no longer working or were working without being paid, he said. Over 7,000 of them were women.

The World Health Organization warned last week that less than a fifth of the country’s health facilities remained fully functional, with two-thirds running out of essential drugs. This could have dire consequences, including for the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a country where only about one percent of the population has received a vaccine, more than a million doses are waiting to be distributed. They will expire by the end of the year, said Matheou.

Posted in Dawn, October 1, 2021


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