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8 million people about to lose access to life-saving health aid in Afghanistan: WHO

life-saving health
World Health Organization (WHO)

The updated Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2023 reveals a stark surge in the number of individuals urgently requiring humanitarian aid

A new alert issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) has underlined the vital necessity of ramping up investment in healthcare services in Afghanistan, particularly in underserved areas where healthcare infrastructure is severely under-resourced and remains vulnerable due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

The WHO said after decades of instability, exacerbated by severe drought and natural disasters, Afghanistan is currently mired in an enduring humanitarian crisis. Millions of people are living with inadequate or nonexistent access to healthcare and food, leaving them at high risk of malnutrition and disease outbreaks. The situation of women and girls has become much worse because of limitations in education and employment opportunities. 

The updated Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2023 reveals a stark surge in the number of individuals urgently requiring humanitarian aid. According to the plan, 28.8 million people in Afghanistan are in immediate need of assistance, up from 18.4 million prior to August 2021. In an effort to address the health emergency, health assistance is targeted at 14 million individuals, including 7.5 million children and 3.1 million women, with 8.4 million already having received aid in the first half of 2023. 

The healthcare response has been commendable, with a total of 25.7 million healthcare services provided between 2022 and 2023, WHO said. 

Despite these efforts, without adequate funding, 8 million people in Afghanistan will lose access to crucial and potentially life-saving health aid. 450,000 patients will face limited or no availability of life-saving trauma care services, such as blood transfusions and referrals, the WHO pointed out. The world body said around 1.6 million individuals grappling with mental health conditions will be deprived of essential mental health consultations and psychosocial support.

The WHO Alert sheds light on the dire ramifications that will ensue if underfunding persists in Afghanistan’s healthcare system. The country’s health sector is grappling with substantial obstacles in delivering comprehensive services to Afghan citizens, particularly women and children, resulting in fragmentation and heightened vulnerability, especially in underserved regions.

“The situation in Afghanistan is grave, and the lack of resources and funding to support health workers and facilities is putting countless lives at risk,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus  said. “Women and children are suffering the most. I call on donors to give generously so that we can continue our life-saving work.”

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