Afghan Healthcare Deteriorates Amid Foozen Aid

After the Taliban took over the reins of Afghanistan in August, international aid has dried up resulting in deteriorating public health facilities for the Afghan citizens.

Pamela Constable, writing in The Washington Post said that with aid slow to enter Afghanistan, public health facilities are turning many patients away.
For years, Dasht-e-Barchi State Hospital, popularly known as 100 Beds Hospital, was one of the busiest public health facilities in the Afghan capital, delivering thousands of babies each year. With substantial aid, staffing and expertise provided by the international charity Doctors Without Borders, it offered high-quality maternity care at nominal fees.

Today, 100 Beds is a subdued shadow of its former self, with the staff cut by two-thirds, some equipment inoperable and patients’ families required to purchase medicines outside. Last year, Doctors Without Borders withdrew its large local staff after a gruesome bombing and shooting attack that killed 24 people, including two infants, reported The Washington Post.

Several staff members expressed frustration over their scaled-down service. They said they repeatedly run out of lifesaving drugs and have not performed any Caesarean sections in the past two months.

They are also turning away pregnant patients with high-risk conditions because they cannot ensure that scarce oxygen and a skilled surgeon will both be available during delivery. Instead, they said, such patients are sent to private clinics, reported The Washington Post.

After the Taliban took power in the country, conditions have deteriorated further. International donors suspended aid that had funded the bulk of public services in Afghanistan, concerned that the new rulers would severely curtail human rights and revive cruel punishments for those who disobeyed their religious dictates. The hospital’s budget was slashed, and many staffers resigned, wrote Constable.

“Security is much better now, but our capacity to pay for salaries and supplies has been greatly affected by the economic situation,” said Atiqullah Kariq, the hospital director.

“We used to deliver 70 babies a day, but now we are down to less than 15. We used to have more than 100 midwives; now we have six. We are trying our best, but without more international help, we cannot recover,” added Kariq.

Across the city and the country, healthcare facilities are facing similar struggles to provide basic services, especially in rural areas, humanitarian groups report, wrote Constable.

For weeks, humanitarian aid groups have warned that a health crisis is sweeping the country, with millions of people jobless or displaced and poorly fed as winter nears.

Already one of the world’s poorest countries, Afghanistan suffers from high rates of infant mortality and inadequate nutrition, and it is marked by other indicators of poor health. (ANI)

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