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Afghan healthcare teeters on the brink of collapse as hospitals run out of fuel and supplies

Several diseases are currently ravaging the embattled nation and foreign aid has largely been frozen

Afghan hospitals are running dangerously low on resources.
Afghan hospitals are running dangerously low on resources. | ICRC

December 16, 2021 12:28pm

Updated: December 16, 2021 9:49pm

The healthcare system Afghanistan is teetering on the brink of collapse as fuel supplies run low, as do essential drugs and basic medical materials like gloves.

Staff have not been paid in weeks, and according to the AP, some are selling their household furniture in order to pay their bills. Some have not been paid in close to five months.

Because there is no diesel fuel, generators cannot bee run to provide oxygen for coronavirus patients. Instead, oxygen cylinders are purchased from a local supplier. Two hospital ambulances also sit idle outside the building because there is no gas to fuel them.

Doctors at the Afghan-Japan Hospital for communicable diseases, which serves the 4 million residents of Kabul, fear they are far from prepared to combat the inevitable onset of the Omicron variant.

The hospital had previously been funded by a European aid group financed by the World Bank. However, when that contract expired in November, the World Bank did not renew it because, like most international monetary sources, it has frozen funds to the new Taliban regime.

It is a dire time for the region, which is suffering from a drought that has driven up food prices for the impoverished population. The medical emergencies are also arriving without mercy. "There are six simultaneous disease outbreaks: cholera, a massive measles outbreak, polio, malaria and dengue fever, and that is in addition to the coronavirus pandemic," Dr Paul Spiegel, director of the Center for Humanitarian health at Johns Hopkins University told the Guardian.

The Deputy Health Minister Dr. Abdul Bari Omar estimates that Afghanistan has approximately 3.5 million malnourished children.

"It didn’t happen in the last four months. Malnutrition was inherited from the previous system, but we are trying to find a solution for this problem," he told the AP.