World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited hospitals in Kabul on Tuesday in the organization’s first high-level visit to Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of country.
The first African to lead the WHO accompanied the group’s director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, to meet with Taliban leaders, health workers and their own staff in the country, as well as visit a hospital. They also thanked the countries still contributing aid to Afghanistan during Dr Tedros’ visit on Tuesday, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Pakistan.
“We applaud the continued support facilitated by Qatar, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, the World Food Program and United Nations partners, with this support, we managed to deliver eight separate shipments of drugs and medical supplies to the country, “Dr Al-Mandhari tweeted on Tuesday.
The couple called on the Afghan health system to remain neutral and out of conflict, and pledged that the WHO would continue its work in the region.
“We must act now to protect the Afghan health system which is already fragile and has been deeply affected by recent insecurity,” said Dr Al Mandhari.
The country, taken over by the Taliban just over a month ago, now faces shortages of cash and medical supplies, disruptions in the response to Covid-19 and a drop in vaccinations against other diseases like polio.
Many international organizations and governments withdrew funding, which accounts for around 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, for fear that the money would fall into the hands of the Taliban. Even before the Taliban seized Kabul on August 15, 47 percent of the population lived in poverty, according to the Asian Development Bank, and a third survived on the equivalent of $ 1.90 a day.
Dr Tedros said the lack of funding had an impact on medical care, including the treatment of victims of the August 26 suicide bombing outside Kabul airport, which killed 60 people and injured many more people crowded for places on evacuation flights in the early days of the Taliban. to resume.
“I was heartbroken when I heard that the nurses, who worked day and night, had not received a salary for three months. They do the most valuable work in the most difficult circumstances – saving lives! He said on Twitter after visiting the Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan National Hospital in the capital.
“Health is a service that must be continued at all times. If the Afghan health system collapses, the tragedy will be worse and many more lives will be lost. We can prevent this from happening, together.
The Taliban have shown little sign of adopting the reforms they promised to differentiate their 1996-2001 regime from today, including allowing women to work and study.
“The Taliban will have to make a choice between money or isolation, but we expect very little of them,” an EU diplomat told Reuters. “Today there are no signals.”
Update: September 21, 2021, 4:42 p.m.