Amid air quality reports ranking Kabul as one of the most polluted cities globally, the Ministry of Public Health claimed that at least 17 people have died of respiratory infections and related health conditions over the past week, all due, according to the ministry, to the polluted air in the city.
The ministry, which began an anti-pollution campaign on Monday, said that over 8,800 patients visited government hospitals in Kabul over the past week who were suffering from respiratory conditions including the common cold and lung problems. The ministry said that 17 of the patients have died.
According to the ministry, the figure shows that 1,600 more patients visited government hospitals in a week this year compared to the same period last year.
According to the international monitoring organization Air Visual – which provides regular updates about air pollution -- the Kabul air has been rated hazardous over the past month. This, according to officials, is due to the use of low-quality fuel, including coal, for warming government buildings, wedding halls, houses, and some other private businesses.
The Ministry of Public Health says masks will be distributed to the people in 16 busy places in the city of Kabul for two weeks.
The ministry said in a statement that 22 government institutions have joined hands to overcome air pollution in the city.
As part of this campaign, the National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA), with Kabul’s municipal government and the Interior Ministry, on Sunday evening closed three wedding halls, and offices in two Kabul townships, for using low-quality fuel for heating.
NEPA Chief Schah Zaman Maiwandi said that over 20 businesses will be closed if they refuse to adhere to the regulations to reduce air pollution in the city.