WHO says an imminent health crisis is looming over Afghanistan

Sept 7, 2021: Hundreds of medical facilities in Afghanistan are in danger of closing soon because Western donors financing them have been barred from dealing with the new Taliban government, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Monday.

Rick Brennan, the UN Health Agency WHO’s regional director of emergency, told Reuters news agency in an interview that about 90 per cent of the country’s 2.23 per cent health facilities could be closed this weekend.

He said Western donors may have rules and regulations that prevent them from dealing with the Taliban without going into further detail. “We’re going to stop the operation in a large proportion of these (health facilities). According to some estimates, work up to 90 will probably be over by the end of the week and this will be accompanied by an increase in illness and death,” Brennan said.

He said that WHO was trying to fill the gap by providing equipment, supplies and finance to 500 health centers. He added that the agency was also liaising with Qatar for medical delivery by plane.

“We are expecting the Qatari government to deliver two or three aircraft carriers to Kabul next week or so,” he said.

The next delivery from the WHO will include covid test kits and equipment for the treatment of chronic diseases.

Along with other aid agencies, the WHO has struggled to bring medical supplies, including trauma kits, in part due to the chaos at Kabul Airport.

Brennan said medical supplies were being shipped through the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and that the WHO was also looking for land routes from Pakistan by truck.

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