The Killid Group, March 29, 2014
Creaky health care
Afghanistan has the worst rate of maternal mortality in the world
By Lal Aqa Shirin
Health Minister Suraya Dalil believes health care is at the doorstep of 70 percent of Afghans and only an hour away from the rest. But a quick look reveals a vastly different story.
Last month at a conference on public-private partnership in Kabul a very optimistic minister also said, “Statistics show Afghanistan has developed considerably in the health sector.”
But Save the Children International rues there are still only 6 or 7 doctors for every 1,000 people. A survey of 800 patients in four hospitals supported by Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) including Ahmad Shah Baba Hospital in Kabul’s 12th District and Boost Hospital in Lashkargah, Helmand province – reveals one in five Afghans die because of health reasons.
Tens of thousands of patients have to travel to hospitals in Pakistan, India and other countries because of poor medical services including an acute shortage of trained doctors and facilities.
Kabul resident Abdul Wasae says doctors thought his headaches were linked to epilepsy and prescribed medicines that only made his condition worse. However, doctors in India where he went to for treatment ruled out epilepsy and took him off the drugs. “One more month of medicines and I may have lost my memory,” he says.
According to the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI), an estimated one thousand people go abroad every day for treatment. Qurban Haqjo,the chief executive of ACCI, says patients spend up to 2,000 USD per day, which is ahuge drain on the exchequer.
Save the Children International rues there are still only 6 or 7 doctors for every 1,000 people. A survey of 800 patients in four hospitals supported by Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) including Ahmad Shah Baba Hospital in Kabul’s 12th District and Boost Hospital in Lashkargah, Helmand province – reveals one in five Afghans die because of health reasons.
According to the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI), an estimated one thousand people go abroad every day for treatment.
The Killid Group, Mar. 29, 2014
Dr Fazal Mohammad Ibrahimi, head of a 102-bed hospital in Kabul’s Khair Khana, says hospitals are unable to cope with the pressure of patients. “We don’t have the capacity to admit all patients,” he says. “We (often) refer them to other hospitals after emergency services.”
Overburdened and understaffed
Dr Hedayatullah Tamil, a specialist at the Istiklal Hospital, Kabul, told Mursal weekly in an interview, “We are faced with lack of health staff, medical equipment, medicines …”
Niaz Mohammad was forced to bring his five-year-old son suffering from severe hypothermia to Kabul after failing to get him treated in Faryab province. The boy was turned away from one hospital, and died in the second a few hours after he was admitted.
The district hospital in Deh Sabz is the only maternity hospital for some 3,000 families. The hospital’s only female doctor, Dr Mina Kamal Wardak, says they get a stream of pregnant women patients. “I see up to 140 patients a day,” she says.
There are no female doctors in some districts of Baghlan. Those in Barka, Pul Hesar, Tala Barfak and Guzargah Noor areas work only in the day.
Arbab Asadullah, a tribal leader,says there is only one health centre, and one female nurse for Jelga district, Baghlan. “My niece who was about to deliver was taken to the clinic at night but the nurse was absent. Then I had to travel one and half hours by car with her to Nahrin district clinic. Unfortunately the baby died,” he says.
Asadullah says his heavily bleedingniece was then taken by road to Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan, because the clinic in Nahrin was not equipped to handle the emergency. It took her two months to recover. “She would have died if we had not moved her,” he adds.
Gul Agha, the governor of Jelga district, confirms patients wait for five to six hours to be checked by a nurse.
Afghanistan has the worst rate of maternal mortality in the world. In Paktia province there are four women doctors and 40 midwives for 38 health centres.
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