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Pneumonia runs rampant through Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 20, 2022)

In the last 45 days, more than four hundred people have died of pneumonia across the country, officials said adding that most of them were children.

The Ministry of Public Health says that during this period, nearly 190,000 people contracted pneumonia across the country.

According to health officials, the highest number of cases were in Kabul, Nangarhar and Balkh provinces.

According to the ministry:

• In 2020, more than 900,000 people were infected and 1,700 people died
• In 2021 more than 944,000 people were infected and 1,900 died
• In 2022, more than 188,000 people have so far been infected while 436 people have died

The highest number of infections recorded this year so far have been in Balkh with 23,075 cases, then Kabul with 20,990 and Nangarhar with 14,560.

Nangarhar recorded the most deaths from pneumonia with 88 cases, Balkh with 75 cases and Kabul with 45.

Extreme cold, a lack of fuel to heat homes, limited access to health care and hospitals is behind the rising case load officials said.

A large percentage of fatalities however have been children.

“In the last two months, many patients have been referred to the hospital and hospitalized here; we try to treat them right until the end,” said Haseb Ahmadzai Wardak, head of Indira Gandhi Children Hospital in Kabul.

Historically, one-fifth of all children under the age of five who have died succumbed to pneumonia.

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WHO sends 693 metric tons of medical supplies to 91 districts

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(Last Updated On: November 23, 2022)

With the arrival of the cold season in the country, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that it has sent more than 690 metric tons of medical supplies and equipment to over 300 health centers in Afghanistan.

“To prepare health facilities for the winter season, WHO has deployed 693 metric tons of emergency kits and medical supplies to 301 health facilities in 91 districts of Afghanistan that will be cut-off from access due to the harsh weather,” WHO tweeted.

The organization said in a series of tweets that these health supplies have been sent to the districts that will become cut off during the winter ahead.

“The medical supplies will be enough for three months, covering a population of around four million Afghans, with more than one million as direct beneficiaries. These areas are hard-to-reach and people are vulnerable to diseases,” WHO tweeted.

The organization said that their teams are on the ground to ensure hospitals are ready for winter, that training of health workers is ongoing, and that communities are empowered to protect themselves from diseases.

Meanwhile, an Afghan health department official expressed satisfaction with WHO’s move but said the aid is not enough and that additional supplies should be sent to more health facilities.

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Bayat Foundation establishes pediatric oncology unit in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: November 17, 2022)

Bayat Foundation has established a new unit in the Jamhuriat Hospital where children with cancer will be treated. This health center is a state-owned hospital which is located in Kabul city.

According to Bayat Foundation officials, the pediatric oncology ward was built within a month, includes six beds and has modern equipment, including oxygen units, ultrasound machines and monitors for checking vital signs.

“For the first time, about six years ago, Bayat Foundation established another department in the Jamhuriat Hospital for cancer patients, where more than five thousand cancer patients have been treated,” said Dr. Ehsanullah Bayat, the Chairman of Bayat Foundation.

Dr. Bayat also said that another modern hospital for children and mothers in Kabul has been built by the foundation, which will serve the people once equipment has been installed.

“The goal of Bayat Foundation has always been to help our countrymen and these children, who are the future of Afghanistan, who need more help, and you will soon see the opening of another very modern hospital for children and mothers in the area of Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan,” said Dr. Bayat.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Public Health considers the establishment of a pediatric oncology department in the Jamhuriat Hospital as one of the most important needs in the health sector in the current situation.

“The Public Health Ministry is very happy that it was able to create a special pediatric oncology ward in Afghanistan with the cooperation of benevolent compatriots,” said Mohammad Hassan Ghiasi, deputy minister for public health, adding that the work was done at the initiative and funding of the Bayat Foundation, and is a much-needed facility.

The head of Jamhuriat Hospital, Khan Mohammad Akrami, welcomed the Bayat Foundation’s move and said that now with the establishment of the pediatric oncology department, patients who go into shock or go into a coma during chemotherapy will be hospitalized and cared for.

“Fortunately, with the help of the Bayat Foundation and the initiative of the Ministry of Public Health, we were able to establish an oncology department here,” said Mohammad Akrami.

According to statistics, dozens of children visit this hospital daily for chemotherapy, and a number of these children go into shock while some fall into a coma during treatment.

Bayat Foundation meanwhile also delivered hundreds of boxes of nutritional supplements to malnourished children being treated at the hospital.

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As world population hits 8 billion, China frets over too few babies

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(Last Updated On: November 14, 2022)

Chinese software developer Tang Huajun loves playing with his two-year-old in their apartment on the outskirts of Beijing but he said he is unlikely to have another child.

Such decisions by countless people like Tang will determine the course not only of China’s population but that of the world, which the United Nations says is projected to reach 8 billion on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Tang, 39, said many of his married friends have only one child and, like him, they are not planning any more. Younger people aren’t even interested in getting married let alone having babies, he said.

The high cost of childcare is a major deterrent to having children in China, with many families in an increasingly mobile society unable to rely for help on grandparents who might live far away.

“Another reason is that many of us get married very late and it’s hard to get pregnant,” Tang said. “I think getting married late will definitely have an impact on births.”

China was for decades preoccupied with the prospect of runaway population growth and imposed a strict one-child policy from 1980 to 2015 to keep numbers in check.

But now the United Nations expects China’s population will start shrinking from next year, when India will likely become the world’s most populous country.

The anguish of the coronavirus pandemic and China’s strict measures to stamp it out may also have had a profound impact on the desire of many people to have children, demographers say.

New births in China are set to fall to record lows this year, demographers say, dropping below 10 million from last year’s 10.6 million – which was already 11.5% lower than in 2020.

Beijing last year began allowing couples to have up to three children and the government has said it is working towards achieving an “appropriate” birth rate.

Alarmed by the prospect of an aging society, China has been trying to encourage couples to have more children with tax breaks and cash handouts, as well as more generous maternity leave, medical insurance and housing subsidies.

But demographers say the measures are not enough. They cite high education costs, low wages and notoriously long working hours, along with frustration over COVID curbs and the overall state of the economy.

A key factor is job prospects for young people, said Stuart Gietel Basten, professor at Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology.

“Why would you have more babies when the people you have cannot even get jobs?”

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