Growing number of Afghans lack health care -
KABUL, 7 April 2009 (IRIN) - Over 600,000 Afghans
lack basic healthcare services due to attacks on
healthcare facilities and health workers - a figure
that has doubled since 2007, Abdullah Fahim, a
spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH),
About 32 health centres were torched, destroyed
and/or closed down due to insecurity in 2007, and 28
health facilities were shut down or attacked in 2008,
Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and MoPH
are calling on all Afghans and warring parties,
especially the insurgents, to understand the
neutrality of health centres: “We call on the Taliban
to respect the neutrality of health services and stop
attacking health workers and health centres as they
are in the field just to help people in need of health
care,” Fahim said.
World Health Day, which is marked on 7 April 2009,
focuses on the safety of health facilities and the
preparedness of health workers for emergencies.
“Frankly, there is no other country in the world
really where this message is more important… The lives
of health workers are put on the line every day when
they try to deliver services,” Sophia Craig, WHO
health cluster coordinator for Afghanistan, told IRIN.
Craig said there had been an increase in the number
of attacks on health facilities and health workers
over the past year.
Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal and
infant (0-12 months) mortality rates in the world,
according to WHO. Every hour at least two Afghan women
die from obstetric complications due in part to the
lack of health services. In each batch of 1,000 live
births, at least 125 infants die, and one in five
children die from mostly preventable diseases before
their fifth birthday, the UN Children’s Fund and the
MoPH said in 2008.
Meanwhile, the security situation is deteriorating,
according to a 10 March 2009 report by the UN
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a
project the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs. IRIN is UN humanitarian news and
information service, but may not necessarily reflect
the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
[This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]