Afghanistan’s public health conditions in rapid decline – WHO

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Healthcare provision is deteriorating fast in Afghanistan, with cases of measles and diarrhoea shooting up, and polio becoming a “major risk”, World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday.

The UN health agency said, the country’s COVID-19 response has also declined and almost half of its children are at risk of malnutrition.

Only 17% of the over 2,300 health facilities in the country previously supported by the World Bank, are fully functional, two-thirds of which have run out of essential medicines.

WHO is working with donors to sustain health facilities to prevent outbreaks, and rising illness. The UN health agency is also boosting surveillance and testing capacities within the country, as Covid-19 continues to be a significant challenge.

“Recently, we have airlifted 50,000 COVID-19 tests that are being distributed to 32 labs across the country,” WHO said, adding that 10 more labs are also being planned.

Several humanitarian partners on the ground reiterated their commitment to continue working together with the UN to support the nation’s ailing health system.

Speaking at a regular news briefing in New York, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists that the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will be scaling up their work in the country, with up to 100 new mobile health and nutrition teams.

He also relayed that the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said that midwives throughout Afghanistan are continuing to operate, bringing critical life-saving care to women and girls in need.

UNFPA’s midwifery helpline has been providing uninterrupted remote support to midwives facing complicated deliveries, dangerous pregnancies and other critical concerns.

A Flash Appeal launched on Sept. 07 by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) aims to help 11 million people survive as food is running out and the country’s basic services are on the verge of collapse.

Requesting US$606 million in the remaining months of this year, Mr. Dujarric reminded that the appeal is only 22% funded, which according to OCHA’s calculation, represents just US$135 million.

“The UN is asking donors to fast-track funding to prevent avoidable deaths, prevent displacement and reduce suffering”, he said. “We are also asking our donors to ensure that funding is flexible enough to adapt to the fast-changing conditions on the ground”.  (Source: UN News)

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