Taliban Rule in Afghanistan Takes Toll on Healthcare System

Afghanistan’s healthcare system is in a state of rapid decline due to reduced foreign aid and the prevailing economic crisis, according to a recent report by The Washington Post.

The Washington Post’s investigation has focused on four hospitals and medical centers in western and central Afghanistan, revealing a significant deterioration in rural medical facilities since the Taliban assumed power nearly two years ago.

The report states that “the health system itself is now suffering from a lack of cash as foreign donors, distracted by other crises and weary of being seen as supportive of the new Afghan authorities, appear increasingly hesitant about spending more.”

Despite funding availability remaining relatively unchanged, the report has found that the number of patients has surged by approximately 20% across thousands of UNICEF-funded health facilities, with some facilities experiencing a doubling of patients.

Afghanistan is currently facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, according to United Nations officials. However, the Taliban-run government, keen to portray its medical system as successful, asserts that its clinics are functioning well while simultaneously appealing to the international community for increased funding and the lifting of sanctions.

In an interview with the Washington Post last month, Sharafat Zaman, the spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Public Health, claimed that the healthcare system is not in an emergency situation. However, this contradicts the observations and concerns expressed by healthcare professionals on the ground.

One example highlighted in The Washington Post report is the case of Shindand Hospital in western Herat province. Following the Taliban’s takeover, doctors at the hospital had hoped for increased aid allocation to support their efforts in the aftermath of peace.The Taliban’s ban on women working in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies has also had dire consequences for the healthcare system. As a result, some organizations have withdrawn or reduced their presence in Afghanistan. The long-term effects of the Taliban’s restrictions on women are expected to be significant, with hospitals already facing a shortage of female doctors due to enforced gender segregation. Furthermore, the prohibition on women studying in universities will exacerbate the scarcity of medical staff.

“The Taliban abandoned half of our population,” a senior hospital official in Shindand has expressed to The Washington Post. “And now, as a result of that, the world has abandoned all of us,” the official has added, highlighting the devastating impact of the Taliban’s actions on Afghan society.