After the rapid collapse of the Western-backed government in August, Afghanistan’s healthcare system faced serious challenges as global support for the health sector was greatly reduced.
International agencies including the World Health Organization have repeatedly warned that Afghanistan’s health system is on the brink of collapse because of the suspended aid for healthcare. These agencies highlighted the medicine shortages and COVID-19s risk as major challenges for the country’s healthcare system.
Before the collapse of the former government and the halt of global aid to the health sector in Afghanistan, the outbreak of the coronavirus weakened the health system in the country, and people faced many challenges including a lack of hospital beds, medical oxygen and virus testing kits across the country.
The Ministry of Public Health announced lockdowns due to the pandemic three times in 2021.
“They (officials) should pay series attention to the hospital conditions and provide them with equipment; otherwise a serious catastrophe will occur,” said Bashir Noormal, former Deputy Minister of Public Health.
The United States, China, India and other countries helped Afghanistan’s health system by providing doses of COVID-19 vaccines, but now Afghans are deeply concerned over the outbreak of the Omicron variant, which has already been detected in Afghanistan’s neighboring countries.
The officials at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) warned on Wednesday that Afghanistan lacks testing kits for Omicron, and the ministry urged the WHO to provide Omicron testing kits and PCR equipment for Afghanistan.
“As we have a lot of commuting with our neighbors, we are not so far from having the (new variant) in our society,” said Nabeel Faqeeryar, a doctor.
“95 percent of the Afghan health sector relied on foreign aid, and when the Islamic Emirate came to power, this aid was halted, and this caused problems,” said Javed Asghar, MOPH spokesman.
After the Islamic Emirate’s victory, many COVID-19 hospitals and treatment centers have remained closed and Afghanistan health workers have not received wages for several months.