Photo: WHO Afghanistan on X

WHO Supplies to 25 Hospitals in Afghanistan Amid Worsening Humanitarian Crisis

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has supplied medical kits and medicine worth $4.4 million to 25 hospitals across Afghanistan since September last year.

In a social media statement posted on Tuesday, April 2, WHO expressed gratitude to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF) for its support, noting that it enabled hospitals to sustain healthcare delivery services for nearly 3.5 million people. The statement emphasized the critical role of these hospitals in reducing morbidity and mortality rates.

Afghanistan’s long-standing health crisis is deepening amid a humanitarian and governance crisis that has brought funding shortfalls and lack of professional health workers. 

The Taliban’s ban on education and employment for women, including female healthcare professionals, has further impacted Afghanistan’s health sector, jeopardizing the well-being of women and families.

Furthermore, the significant decrease in financial and technical development assistance for Afghanistan’s public health system since the Taliban takeover has greatly harmed the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

In a report released in February 2024, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) voiced concern over the decrease in foreign aid for the health sector in Afghanistan. It highlighted that this reduction has compromised healthcare access, with women and girls being particularly affected by the situation.

HRW argued that in order to alleviate the suffering of people in Afghanistan, donor countries should press Taliban leaders for removing all barriers hindering or delaying people’s access to healthcare and humanitarian aid. They should also boost and maintain funding for the healthcare system, undertake measures to normalize payments and transactions, and enhance support for training and educational initiatives for girls and women in health-related fields.

The funding shortfall and the Taliban’s ban on women’s education and work, has compelled many international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to halt or reduce operations in the impoverished country.

Last year, the ICRC ended its funding for 25 hospitals across Afghanistan due to a funding shortfall. The organization had begun funding these hospitals after the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021 to prevent the collapse of the healthcare system.

At that time, the ICRC said that its governing board had approved $475.3 million in cost reductions for 2023 and early 2024. Additionally, the organization planned to scale back operations in certain locations due to anticipated decreases in budgets for humanitarian aid.

Moreover, another major international organization, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), which had been supporting health facilities throughout Afghanistan, including the largest hospital in Maidan Wardak province, ceased operations last month due to demands from the Taliban.

The regime in Afghanistan suspended all Swedish activities in the country following the burning of Quran copies by two individuals outside a Stockholm mosque in June 2023. This decision affected the operations of the SCA, even though the organization condemned the burning of the Quran and clarified that it is not affiliated with the Swedish government.