Protect patients, health workers and facilities: WHO to all parties in Afghanistan

The World Health Organization was committed to staying in Afghanistan and delivering critical health services, it said

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 18 August 2021
A Red Cross vehicle in Afghanistan. Photo: @ICRC_af / Twitter__

The World Health Organization (WHO) called on all parties in Afghanistan to respect and protect civilians, health workers, patients and health facilities, a statement issued August 18, 2021 by the United Nations body, said.

The WHO was committed to staying in Afghanistan and delivering critical health services, the statement by Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, added.

It noted that months of violence had taken a toll on the country’s fragile health system, which had already been stretched to the limit during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The statement said the chaos that ensued with the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul August 16 and 17, had left its own impact.

The WHO had received reports about increasing cases of diarrhoea, malnutrition, high blood pressure, COVID-19-like symptoms and reproductive health complications in Kabul and other large cities.

Disruptions in the delivery of healthcare services would increase the risk of disease outbreaks and prevent some of the most vulnerable groups from seeking life-saving health care, the statement noted.

There was an immediate need to ensure the continuity of health services across Afghanistan, with a focus on ensuring that women had access to female health workers.  

The statement also highlighted the continuing attacks on healthcare workers. From January to July 2021, 26 health facilities and 31 health care workers were affected; 12 health workers were killed, it said. 

The WHO was continuing its work of providing essential health services to the people despite the insecurity this week.

On August 17, it had dispatched 33 units of different modules of trauma kits to the Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital in Kabul. This was enough to cover 500 surgical procedures for 500 trauma patients and 750 burn victims, the statement said.

It had also dispatched 10 basic medical kits enough to provide essential medicines for 10,000 people for three months.  

WHO had also provided Helmand regional hospital with six basic medical supply kits and one cholera kit to support the provision of basic medicines for 6,000 people for three months and the management of 100 cases of diarrhoea.

The UN body was also continuing its work to fight COVID-19. Its focus was on diagnosis and testing, surveillance, clinical care, infection prevention and control, vaccination, and referrals for recently displaced people in major cities.  

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