Pneumonia cases have spiked in Afghanistan, leaving an untold number of children dead due to the lack of healthcare facilities in the country, Save the Children, a leading humanitarian organization for children, said on Monday.
“Child pneumonia is surging in the middle of a hunger crisis that is ravaging young immune systems,” the organization said in a statement. “The collapse of the health system, driven largely by frozen financial assets and withdrawn aid, comes at a deadly cost for Afghan children.”
According to one doctor at a hospital, he had never seen so many cases of child pneumonia and severe malnutrition. He said 135 children had died in or on their way to the hospital last December.
The statement noted that “clinics across the country have been forced to close as wages for health workers have dried up” and that “crumbling health services is one of the direct impacts of global assets freezes and suspended development aid, both of which are choking the healthcare system.”
In addition, the aid agency called on the international community to unlock vital funding.
Herat to get specialized hospital for patients with blood disorders
Health officials in Herat province say a three-story Hematology Hospital will be built in the province to treat patients with blood disorders including leukemia.
Mohammad Asif Kabir, Deputy Health Director of Herat, said the foundation stone of the hospital was laid on Monday, November 28.
“It’s been for a long time that we wanted to build a hematology hospital and now it’s being constructed with the financial support of good people who live inside and outside the country, and that foundation stone was laid today with the coordination of the authorities in Herat,” said Kabir.
According to the officials, the construction of this project has been made possible by donors including a charity organization, businessmen and investors.
“The cost of this hospital will be paid with the financial assistance of benevolent people abroad, businessmen and investors of Herat,” said Hamidullah Khadim, head of Herat Chamber of Industries and Mines.
Doctors in the province meanwhile say that the number of children suffering from thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder characterized by less hemoglobin and fewer red blood cells in the body than normal, is increasing. According to them, about 600 children in the western region of the country are suffering from the disease.
Blood cancer cases are also on the rise.
“The number of cancer cases in Herat is higher than the 8,000 that we recorded, and this is an alarm for us,” said Asif Rahmani, head of the pediatric blood cancer department at Herat’s provincial hospital.
“Thalassemia children in the western region, which are about 600 children, unfortunately, do not have access to health services,” he said.
10-day measles vaccination campaign rolled out across Afghanistan
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday rolled out a nationwide measles vaccination campaign and hopes to reach at least seven million children.
Public Health Ministry officials said the campaign will run for 10 days and that vaccination teams have been set up at mosques, schools and health centers.
“Mobile measles vaccination teams have come to mosques, schools and health centers. Please vaccinate your children between the ages of nine months and five years for free,” said Qalandar Ebad, Public Health minister.
Sharafat Zaman, the spokesperson of MoPH meanwhile said the aim of this campaign is to save the lives of children who are exposed to measles and emphasized that the vaccine will help to prevent deaths caused by measles among children.
“In this campaign, about seven million children will be vaccinated throughout the country, which covers 10 days, and its goal is to eradicate measles,” said Zaman.
According to doctors, measles is highly contagious, and on average, each person with this disease infects fifteen other healthy people.
“If children get measles, it causes all family members to be infected. Therefore, we recommend families to vaccinate their children,” said Munir, a doctor.
A number of families are happy with the start of the campaign, but say in some cases, despite the use of the vaccine, their children have been infected with this disease.
WHO sends 693 metric tons of medical supplies to 91 districts
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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