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Cut in foreign aid proving a challenge for Afghan health sector

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(Last Updated On: January 2, 2022)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health said 90 percent of foreign aid to the health sector has been cut, which has resulted in serious challenges.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday in Kabul, Abdul Bari Omar, the deputy minister of health, said that despite the challenges, health centers are open across the country.

“They (foreign organizations) skip all their commitments, a crisis was created here. If it was to happen under the former government, they (former government) would also have faced such a crisis,” said Omar.

This comes as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly across the world. However, the health ministry said they want to curb the spread of the virus.

“It (new variant of COVID-19) has arrived in Pakistan; we call on international organizations to help us curb the spread of the virus. We are ready and have COVID-19 medicine,” added Omar.

Omar also noted that under the old government, 3.5 million people turned to drugs and became addicted.

Afghans meanwhile say services in government-run hospitals are bad.

“It (services) is not good, it is worse,” said Yousef, a relative of a patient currently in hospital.

“Doctors are trying [to save lives of patients]. We buy drugs at the bazaar. Our patient’s situation is not good,” said Jafar, another relative of a patient.

This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned last month that unless help is provided, the Afghanistan health sector could collapse.

According to WHO, Afghan health centers face a critical shortage of medicines and medical supplies.

Health

Major drug testing lab to be built in Balkh

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(Last Updated On: December 7, 2022)

Afghanistan Food and Drug Administration (AFDA) says they are thinking about establishing a high-tech quality control laboratory in northern Balkh province to test imported medicines and food.

Abdul Bari Omar, head of AFDA, said during his visit to Balkh on Wednesday that the importing medicines by unlicensed companies have three days to apply for a license otherwise their companies will be closed down.

“We will not allow any drug supplier to operate without a license. There are no technical officers of medicines in drug companies. Technical officers of medicines should be available at all drug companies,” Omar said.

He said that AFDA is planning to establish a laboratory in Mazar-e-Sharif to test the quality of food and medicines. The laboratory will have advanced equipment, he added.

Officials from the local union of medicine suppliers say selling expired and sub-standard medication is a crime against humanity and against Islam.

“When we sell poor quality medicine to a poor man, it is not betrayal, but a crime,” said Shoaib Safi, head of the union of drug suppliers in the north.

This comes as prices of medicines have increased substantially in Balkh, and residents complain that they cannot afford to buy medicines.

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‘Zombie virus’ revived after being trapped in permafrost for 50,000 years

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(Last Updated On: December 7, 2022)

Scientists have revived a number of “zombie viruses” which have been trapped in Siberian permafrost for thousands of years – including one which is nearly 50,000 years old.

The 13 new viruses were identified by scientists who looked at samples of permafrost collected from the Russian province.

Sky News reported that one of the viruses had remained infectious after more than 48,500 years in deep permafrost, according to the study led by microbiologist Jean-Marie Alempic from the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

The virus, known as pandoravirus, should pose no threat to humans.

The team from the French National Centre for Scientific Research said further work needs to be carried out to assess what dangers could lie ahead from the risk of viruses in permafrost as climate change causes frozen landscapes to melt.

The study reads: “One quarter of the northern hemisphere is underlain by permanently frozen ground, referred to as permafrost.

“Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect.

“Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.”

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MoPH marks World AIDS Day in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) Ministry of Public Health marked World AIDS Day on Sunday under the theme “Get tested for HIV, free, easy and confidential”.

Officials of the health ministry said that more than 3,000 people in the country are infected with HIV/AIDS, 75% of whom are men and 25% women, including a small number of children under the age of fifteen.

According to MoPH, out of 12,000 suspected infections, 3,000 of them have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

“3229 cases of AIDS have been registered in Afghanistan, of which 75% are men and 25% are women. Likewise, 195 of them are children under the age of 15,” said Habibullah Akhundzada, deputy minister of health services.

Economic problems, immigration, blood transfusions with contaminated equipment, low level of awareness among people, illiteracy, and drug addiction are said to be factors behind the increase of AIDS in the country.

Meanwhile, MoPH has expressed hope and said that the ministry will deal with this disease with a small budget.

“Five percent of AIDS cases are among drug addicts and we tried to help AIDS patients as much as possible with all the economic problems,” said Haidar Khan, head of MoPH’s disease prevention unit.

On the other hand, officials said that the spread of the disease in Afghanistan is 0.1 percent.

Based on statistics, Afghanistan has one of the least numbers of people infected with AIDS in the world.

“Until now, 3,292 people are suffering from HIV disease, of which 27% are aware of their disease and 9.5% are under treatment,” said Mohammad Akhtar, WHO’s program manager for Afghanistan.

According to figures, the number of people suffering from this disease in the world totals more than 38 million people, and more than 600,000 people died from the disease last year.

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