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300 Districts Deprived of Health Services

Killid findings from Kandahar, Balkh, Herat, Nimroz, Uruzgan, Helmand, Ghor and Paktika provinces show that people in some districts don’t have access to health services (such as medicine, and health equipment) and female doctors, saying that in some remote areas, there is not even one health care centre.

Ahmad Zia Entezar
13 Sep 2023
300 Districts Deprived of Health Services

Although some reports state the level of people’s access to health services is 90%, Killid findings show that residents of more than 300 districts do not have access to standard health services out of 404 districts.

Ministry of Public Health Officials confirm this problem saying that access of all people to standard health services is the priority. Dr. Qalandar Ibad, Acting Minister of Public Health says “Unfortunately, the previous government did not pay attention to the health sector, and nearly 300 districts do not have hospitals and health centres.”

 

What Are People Saying?

The lack of health centres is one of the major problems of some district residents.

Residents of Ghor, a remote province, transfer their patients to neighbouring provinces for treatment due to the lack of health care centres.

Gul Ahmad, a resident of Ghor who brought his sick brother to the Herat hospital for treatment, says that the lack of medicine is another major problem for patients.

“I brought my patient here from Ghor, but there are no treatment facilities either. There is no medicine for patients, I have to buy the medicine outside the hospital,” Gul Ahmad added.

Moreover, residents of other provinces who were interviewed by Killid also complained lack of medicine and health services for patients.

Ahmed, a resident of Uruzgan province, who has been bringing his patient to Treenkot Provincial Hospital for a few days, says that there is no medicine in this hospital and he buys medicine outside of the hospital.

In addition, Mohammad Wali, a patient family member in this hospital says: “Doctors say you should take your brother to Kandahar or Kabul cause of diagnosing his illness.”

 

Wali Jan also brought his patient to Treenkot Hospital and said that he spent a lot of money to buy medicine.

“My patient is hospitalized here and the doctors told me to buy medicine from outside because there is no medicine in this hospital. So far, I have spent 60,000 Afghani on buying medicine, blood tests, and other examinations”, Wali said.

At the same time, Abdul Majeed a resident of the Chahar-Bolak district of Balkh province also complained lack of health centres in their areas, saying that “there were no treatment facilities in our district, so I had to bring my wife to the centre of the province for treatment. But here, neither medicine nor diagnostic tools are healthy and doctors say do all the examinations outside the hospital”.

Gul Mohammad, a resident of the Zhirai district of Kandahar province says that there is no health center in this district.

“There is no hospital, I had to bring my patient to Kandahar Central Hospital, but there is no medicine for the patients here either.”

 

Authorities Response

Health officials confirm the lack of medicine and medical equipment in some provinces’ hospitals and clinics, saying that Herat Hospital is facing a 30-35% shortage of medical equipment.

Dr. Mohammad Aref Jalali, Herat Hospital head says that there is a shortage of laboratory CT scan and ultrasound machines in this hospital.

“We have an average of 50 patients in the CT scan department every day, but, we can only diagnose 20 patients due to the lack of equipment.”

At the same time, Jalil Ahmad Hamdard, pharmacy department head in the Herat seminary hospital, says that there is currently no medicine in the stock of this hospital.

According to him, this hospital’s needy medicine was provided by the (IRC) organization before, but now it has been stopped.

On the other hand, the officials of the public health ministry confirm a lack of medicine and other health services in many districts.

Dr Rashed-uddin Nasser, the head of an institution cooperating with the health sector in Kandahar, says: “Although nearly 19 health centres are operating in the centre of the districts, these centres are facing the lack of medicine and health equipment.”

Meanwhile, Red Cross Committee officials say that they have stopped providing medicines and medical equipment to dozens of government hospitals in Afghanistan due to funding gaps.

Parwiz Ahmad Faizi, the spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, says: “Aids was dedicated to 25 government hospitals in Afghanistan providing 25 million Afghans health services, but due to funding gaps the Red Cross has to stop aids.”

 

Lack of Female Personnel

In addition to the lack of health centres, medicine and health equipment, the lack of female doctors in remote areas is also a serious problem. According to the officials, only eight female doctors are working in Uruzgan Province.

“I brought my daughter to this hospital for treatment, but due to lack of female doctors, I don’t tell my daughter’s condition to the male doctors”, said Zarmina, a resident of Uruzgan.

Gul Naz, another resident of Uruzgan who brought his patient to Treenkot Hospital, complains lack of female doctors: “I brought my patient here for treatment, but there is no female doctor and I will not allow male doctors to examine her.”

“There are very few female doctors in Uruzgan. We need more female doctors. Because a woman cannot explain her illness to a male doctor”, Agha Mohammad, a Uruzgan resident stated.

Meanwhile, Dr Mohibullah Rouhani, the head of public health in Uruzgan says “There are midwives and nurses in all health centres, but the lack of female doctors and specialists is a serious problem.”

It should be noted that the lack of women’s health specialists is a main problem in many provinces.

Bibi Aqila, a resident of the Nawa district of Helmand province, who came to the provincial hospital due to the lack of standard health centres, says: “I came here to diagnose my illness, but there is no female doctor and my illness has not been diagnosed yet.”

Also, Haji Walijan, a resident of Nahr-Saraj, who brought his patient to Lashkarga city, complains lack of health centres and female health workers, said: “There is a clinic in our whole district and there is neither a specialist doctor nor a female doctor. We have to take our patients to Lashkarga Hospital”.

A number of residents of Paktika Province also complained lack of female doctors adding that only two female doctors are working in this province.

“The population of Paktika province is large and two female doctors cannot take care of all patients. And women do not have access to health services”, Khairuddin, a resident of Paktika said.

Amanullah, another resident of Paktika Province, says that due to the lack of female doctors, female patients are referred to male doctors and this is a major problem for women.

“Paktika is a big province, but there are no female doctors and we have to take our patients to male doctors for treatment”, Amanullah said.

On the other hand, Hikmatullah Ismat, the head of public health of Paktika province, calls the lack of female doctors a serious problem adding that this province has been deprived of health services in the past and demands international organizations’ attention.

“In Paktika, we don’t have standard hospitals. We only have three hospitals in the whole province with low facilities.”

 

Islamic Emirate Actions

Dr Qalandar Ibad, Acting Minister of Public Health, confirmed the lack of medicine, equipment and other standard health services in health centres, saying that efforts have been started to solve this problem.

“We are trying to establish standard health centres in deprived districts with the help of donors”, Ibad says adding that 22% of the public health ministry employees are currently women.

“Currently, we have 5,500 new positions and we are trying to employ women due to a serious need. We know health services problems for women and we are trying to increase the percentage of female employees, especially in the midwifery department”.

While concerns about the lack of medicine and health equipment in the districts and some hospitals in different provinces are increasing, recently the World Health Organization described the health situation in Afghanistan as dire. WHO warned that eight million people in Afghanistan will deprived of health services due to a massive funding shortfall.

 

Translated by: Sadaf Yarmal

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