- Yogita Lemai
- BBC correspondent in Afghanistan
Every day 167 children die in Afghanistan from preventable diseases, which UNICEF estimates should be treated with the right medicines.
The BBC’s Yogita Lemay visited hospitals and clinics across Afghanistan to see the collapse of the health sector and its effects on children’s health.
In a hospital where not even a ventilator works, mothers hold oxygen tubes near their babies’ noses. Devices designed to fit their small faces are not available. Women try to fill the gap in trained staff or lack of medical staff.
Stepping into the children’s ward of the main hospital in Western Ghor province, you wonder if the UNICEF rating is too low.
Many rooms are filled with sick children, at least two in each bed, their little bodies with pneumonia. 60 children are cared for by only two nurses.
In one room, at least twenty children appear to be in critical condition.
Children in critical condition need constant monitoring, which is not possible in this hospital.
However, for millions of people living in the Gore state, this basic facility remains the best-equipped public hospital they have access to.
Public health in Afghanistan is inadequate. When the Taliban seized power in August 2021, the foreign funds that supported it were almost completely frozen.
The Taliban’s recent ban on women working in NGOs has made it more difficult for humanitarian agencies to operate, putting more children and infants at risk.
“We don’t have equipment, there’s a shortage of trained staff, especially female staff,” says Edima Soldani, a nurse at Core Hospital. “When we’re caring for so many people in critical condition, which child should we check first? Don’t do anything except for children to die.
At this hospital, a child named Taiibullah died while BBC staff were present. Two-year-old Gulpathan has been suffering from heart problems since birth.
Doctors told the BBC his problem was neither unusual nor difficult to treat. But Gor’s primary hospital does not have the facilities to perform routine surgery to treat him. In addition, lack of necessary medicines for the child.
The family took out a loan to take her to Kabul, but they couldn’t pay for the surgery, so they brought her here, her grandmother said.
Ahmed Smadi, a doctor working at the hospital, told the BBC that Gulbadan needed “two liters of oxygen every minute”.
And, “When this bottle is empty, if she doesn’t find another one, she will die.”
When the BBC crew later returned, it was the gas that had escaped and the child had died.
The hospital’s oxygen production unit cannot produce enough oxygen because it only works at night, and there is no constant supply of raw materials.
Two children died within two hours, of preventable or treatable illnesses. It’s heartbreaking, but all Dr. Sounds familiar to Smaddy and his colleagues.
Smaddy said he was tired and in pain: “Every day we lose one or two children if we claim. We are almost used to it now.”
The footage from Gore Hospital raises serious questions about why public health care in Afghanistan is collapsing so quickly after billions of dollars have been poured into the sector by the international community over 20 years until 2021.
Where was this money spent if the district hospital did not have ventilators for patients?
Currently, the work is going on to fill those voids. Unable to pay directly to the internationally unrecognized Taliban government, humanitarian organizations have offered to fund medical staff salaries and the costs of medicine and food, which is only appropriate for running hospitals in the court. .
The funding, already largely ineffective, could dwindle or disappear as aid agencies warn donors could cut back because the Taliban’s restrictions on women violate international laws.
UN for Afghanistan Only 5 percent of the needs included in the appeal have been funded so far.
A BBC team visited a cemetery on a hill near Gore Hospital. There are no records, not even an overseer, so it is impossible to know who the graves belong to, but it is easy to distinguish between large and small graves.
The numbers are disproportionate, with at least half of the new cemeteries belonging to children.
A resident of a nearby house told us that most of the people buried these days are children. There is no way to quantify how many children are dying, but evidence of the scale of the crisis is everywhere.
“Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator.”
A donor funds the purchase of a “burn suit” for the “forgetful”.
Butterflies that were “extinct” 100 years ago are coming back to life
Study.. Breakthrough in brain cancer treatment