Bastille Day: French National Day, July 14, Celebrated in Afghanistan

France continues to support Afghanistan healthcare system, especially at times when the country needs the world’s helps to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its Kabul-based Ambassador, Mr. David Martinon.

Mohammad Fasih Mutawakel
17 Jul 2020
Bastille Day: French National Day, July 14, Celebrated in Afghanistan

Speaking on the occasion of Bastille Day on Tuesday, July 14, Mr. Martinon said his country will “keep on helping” Afghans in the field of health.

On the occasion of France’s National Day, a number of French NGOs in Afghanistan meanwhile speak of their mission and activities.

Speaking to The Killid Group, MSF or Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders’ Country Representative for Afghanistan, Filipe Ribeiro, said the agency supports the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, and it basically focuses on maternal and hospital basic care.

“MSF is present in Afghanistan since 1980s, forty years already. And nowadays we are present in Kunduz, in Kabul, in Khost, in Kandahar…in Helmand and Herat,” said Mr. Ribeiro. “We just left the country five years—between 2004 and 2009–and we are back since 2009.” MSF is “mainly working on hospital basic care,” he continued.

Asked about MSF’s activities in Afghanistan, Mr. Ribeiro said, “…we are supporting the Ministry of Public Health in Lashkargah—running the original hospital…plus a nutrition project in Herat. We are rebuilding our hospital in Kunduz.” MSF will “keep running the current projects and to see how can we best adapt our medical response,” said Mr. Ribeiro when asked about future plans.

Similarly, Justyna J. Bajer, head of the capital-based French NGO, Première Urgence Internationale (PUI/PU-AMI)—active in eastern Afghanistan—said they have been present in the eastern region such as Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman and Nuristan, working in the health sector providing health services very often to remote areas.

“…we were present in 11 provinces in Afghanistan; right now we are mainly in the east,” Mrs. Bajer spoke to TKG.

Speaking about the PU-AMI’s current activities, Mrs. Bajer said:

Apart from providing the primary health services we also are very much focused on nutrition, trying to help to fight against malnutrition which is quite a considerable challenge in the country, we are also active in the WASH…so basically we are trying to make sure that there is infrastructure of quality and safe water for people, toilets and all sanitation goods and items and also in the so called PSS which is Psycho Social Support.

Asked about the effects of current conflict on the activities of the organization, head of the PUI mission said they face challenges from both warring sides—the Taliban and the government authorities.

We do provide services to populations in places that are/or under active conflict or they are controlled by different groups but the challenges are from both sides so during the COVID-19, for instance, we faced a lot of pressure from the IEA…also faced pressure from the authorities, so sometimes it is actually trying to figure out the best way despite all the pressure that we actually face, she said.

Dr. Najeebullah Bina, a cardiac surgeon in the French Medical Institute for Children and Mothers—based in the capital Kabul—in addition, said the country’s longest-running conflict has had a negative impact on the already-fragile health system.

“War, unfortunately, has a negative impact on the health system. The graph of violence has been high within the last two years. Unluckily, most Afghan children are unable to access to health services due to security and transportation challenges,” according to Dr. Bina.

It is worth noting that France, along with other European countries, has been one of the supporters of the Afghan peace process—which is nowadays a trending issue in the region and across the world.

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