The World Health Organization says only a few days of medical supplies are left in Afghanistan to treat the health needs of millions of people in the fractured country.
Trauma kits are especially in demand following Thursday’s suicide bombing by Islamic State militants at Kabul airport, killing more than 100 people and injuring scores of others.
The WHO says emergency health kits containing essential supplies and medicine for hospitals and clinics, nutritional food for acutely malnourished children and items for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic also are in short supply.
The WHO’s emergency director for the Eastern Mediterranean region, Rick Brennan, says commercial aircraft are blocked from flying into Kabul airport because of security concerns. Therefore, he says, the WHO is exploring other ways of bringing medicine into the country.
“There are multiple security and logistics constraints to doing so but we hope and expect that we will be able to bring in more supplies in the coming days, with the support of the Pakistan government. Kabul airport is not an option for bringing in supplies at this stage and so we are likely to use Mazar-i-Sharif airport, with our first flight hopefully going in the next few days,” Brennan said.
The situation in Afghanistan is volatile and fluid. Humanitarian needs across the country are enormous and growing. The United Nations says some 18 million people require international support. They include an estimated 3.5 million internally displaced people, among them more than half-a-million newly displaced this year.
Brennan says the WHO is committed to staying in Afghanistan and meeting the needs of the displaced and other vulnerable people. He says the welfare of women and children are of particular concern.
“Already we are hearing that some female health workers are not attending work and that there has been a decline in the attendance of women and children at some facilities. This again highlights the need to ensure the availability of medical supplies, to support female health workers in their work, and to encourage families to bring their mothers…and children to seek health care when they need it,” he said.
Brennan says the WHO has staff in all 34 provinces across the country monitoring the health situation. He says that fortunately, most of the 2,200 health facilities the WHO are monitoring remain open and functioning.
However, he warns an increasing number of people will get sick and die unless the medical supplies that are rapidly running out can be replenished in a timely manner.