Afghans needing medical care face problems

 

Only limited medical facilities are available in Afghanistan, particularly after the withdrawal of military hospitals. Despite a few new clinics and hospitals being built in the last decade, local health, and access to healthcare is abysmal.

Access to basic or emergency medical care remains hard to reach for many Afghans despite years of Western involvement and billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance. Among the main barriers for reaching treatment are high costs and lack of money, long distances and armed conflict.

Each year, Afghans spend millions of dollars on medical treatment abroad. This is damaging for the country’s economy, but patients have no other option to save their lives. 60,000 Afghans go to India, Iran, Pakistan or Turkey but at present none can travel.

Recently, tens of thousands of Afghans have entered the country from Iran, mostly via land routes, transmitting the pandemic in Herat, Kandahar and Kabul, with a limited number of cases in almost every province of the country. 

Afghanistan has a broken and dysfunctional health care system. Despite millions of dollars in foreign aid for the health sector, the country doesn’t have a single hospital that can provide reliable diagnostic and treatment services. 

Public hospitals are overburdened and lack quality. Hundreds of private hospitals have been established over the past 18 years, but they lack expertise and adequate facilities, forcing most Afghans to travel abroad for medical help. 

The country has a destitute economy and mostly relies on foreign aid, with the USA being the main financier. It even relies on imports for food.

So, in a broken economy and a healthcare sector struggling to deal with COVID-19, Afghans needing medical care have a problem. The local system cannot cope. They cannot travel overseas. Even when destination countries open borders, they will be wary of accepting medical tourists from a country struggling to deal with a global pandemic. 

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