FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Afghanistan’s Dismal Health Situation

by

As the war in Afghanistan shows no signs of abating, the health of the people in the country continues to be cause for concern. Afghanistan’s health care system is considered one of the worst in the world, and decades of war and international neglect have contributed to its deterioration. An estimated 6 million people, out of a population of 35 million, have no access or adequate access to health care.

Most doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have left the country, causing a shortage of personnel and medical training programs, thus failing to solve people’s most pressing needs. War has caused not only deaths and injuries; it has also led to increased poverty among many households. At the same time, the physical and psychological effects of war have increased the need for medical care.

The British Red Cross reports that 770 hospitals have been closed because of damage. Health services cover only limited regions and even in the areas where they are available they don’t totally cover people’s needs. In addition, there are inadequate supplies of medicines, vaccines, equipment and fuel. As a result, almost 6 million people have no access or adequate access to health care.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO,) diseases controlled in most countries in the world continue to cause deaths and disabilities in Afghanistan. For example, it has been estimated that approximately 60 percent of all childhood deaths and disabilities in Afghanistan are due to respiratory and intestinal infections and vaccine-preventable deaths, particularly measles, of which there are approximately 35,000 cases every year.

The WHO reports that infant and under-five mortality rates are estimated at 165 and 257 per 1,000 live births per year, respectively, which are among the highest in the world. These rates are only surpassed by Sierra Leone, Niger and Angola. With regard to immunization coverage, less than 40 percent of Afghan children receive life-saving vaccinations.

It is estimated that about half of children less than five years of age are stunted due to chronic malnutrition, and up to 10 percent have acute malnutrition. More than half of Afghan children suffer mental and physical damage because they are poorly nourished in the first two years of life.

In addition, although billions of dollars have been spent on poppy eradication and the control of the drug problem, it continues to be unsolved. According to a 2015 U.S. funded study, one in every nine Afghans (including women and children) use illegal drugs.

A study conducted by researchers hired by the U.S. State Department found staggering levels of opium in Afghan children. Some of them were only 14 months old, and had been passively exposed to opium by adult drug users in their homes. In 25 percent of homes where adult addicts were living, tested children showed significant signs of drug exposure. Those adults who inject drugs face the additional risk of HIV infection through sharing of contaminated syringes.

Statistics on women’s health are difficult to obtain, due to societal restrictions and gender relations and behavior. Women’s access to health care is limited, due to a large extent to lack of female medical facilities. Seventeen mothers die during delivery for every 1,000 live births, again one of the highest rates in the world. One of the reasons is that 90 percent of deliveries take place at home, without the help of skilled midwives.

Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined nations in the world. Mines were planted extensively throughout the country, particularly during the period of Soviet occupation (1979-1989). Almost every family in the country has been affected by unexploded ordnance and the remaining land mines, which daily add new victims both through physical injuries and mental stress. It is estimated that over 800,000 Afghans are disabled, many of them children.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn aptly summed up the situation in Afghanistan today. He recently told the Mirror, “After 16 years of bloodshed and destruction, the Taliban are undefeated and terrorism is no less of a threat at home. In fact it has spread. The British Government should make clear to Donald Trump that his strategy of more bombing and a new troop surge will continue this failure.” To continue sending troops to try to win an unwinnable war will only increase the suffering of the Afghan people.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail