WHO warns of dire consequences of underfunding Afghanistan’s health system

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the lack of funding for Afghanistan’s healthcare system is leading to a humanitarian crisis, particularly in underserved areas.

In a report released on Friday, WHO said that the health system is “severely under-resourced” and that the ongoing humanitarian crisis is making it even more difficult to provide essential services.

The report estimates that 8 million people in Afghanistan will lose access to essential health care if funding does not increase. This includes 450,000 patients who will have no access to life-saving trauma care services.

WHO also warned that the lack of funding is having a disproportionate impact on women and children. An estimated 1.6 million people with mental health conditions will have little to no access to mental health consultation and psychosocial support.

“The situation in Afghanistan is grave,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The lack of resources and funding to support health workers and facilities is putting countless lives at risk. Women and children are suffering the most.”

Ghebreyesus called on donors to give generously to WHO so that the organization can continue its life-saving work in Afghanistan.

WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Ahmed Al Mandhari echoed Ghebreyesus’s call for action. “It is our collective responsibility to act now to support the Afghan health care system,” he said. “The consequences of inaction are catastrophic and may leave a lasting impact on the health and well-being of the Afghan people.”

WHO Representative to Afghanistan Dr. Luo Dapeng said that the situation in Afghanistan is “critical” and demands “urgent attention.” He thanked current partners for their support and called on them to redouble their efforts.

According to WHO statistics, at least 28.8 million people in Afghanistan are in need of immediate assistance. To address the health emergency, 14 million people, including 7.5 million children and 3.1 million women, are currently targeted for health assistance.

WHO has already reached 8.4 million people with health assistance in the first six months of 2023. However, the organization says that more funding is needed to reach the remaining people in need.