The ongoing conflict is exacting a heavy toll on Afghanistan’s already fragile health system which has been facing shortage of essential medical supplies and equipment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Needs assessment and service delivery by mobile health teams and health cluster partners are on hold for the past 24 hours due to insecurity and the unpredictable situation in Kabul. Disruptions to health services can have dire consequences.
Disruptions at airport are delaying urgently needed essential health supplies. Crowding at health facilities and IDP camps due to rising conflict in the country will limit implementation of infection prevention protocols, increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks of other diseases. The COVID-19 vaccination and other essential vaccination programmes have also been significantly affected due to the active fighting.
Afghanistan remains one of two polio endemic countries of the world. Any delays and disruptions to polio campaigns will directly jeopardize the health of Afghan children. Currently all polio cases confirmed in 2021 are from areas where house to house and routine immunization has not been allowed for an extended period.
As the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate rapidly, WHO is extremely concerned over the unfolding safety and humanitarian needs in the country, including risk of disease outbreaks and rise in COVID-19 transmission.
We call on all parties to the conflict to abide by international humanitarian and human rights laws. The gains of the past twenty years cannot be turned back.
Health and well-being of Afghan civilians, especially women and girls, is of utmost priority. During this challenging period, the delivery of essential health services must be maintained, health workers respected and supported, and health facilities and humanitarian infrastructure safeguarded. WHO is committed to stay and deliver life-saving health care and will continue responding to the rapidly rising health needs in the country at its time of need.