UAE – World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited hospitals in Kabul on Tuesday, in the first high level visit from the organisation to Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country.
The first African to lead the WHO accompanied the group’s director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, to meet Taliban leaders, health workers and their own staff in the country, as well as tour a hospital. They also thanked nations contributing aid to Afghanistan during Dr Tedros’ visit on Tuesday, including the UAE, Qatar and Pakistan.
“We laud the ongoing support facilitated by Qatar, Pakistan, UAE, the World Food Programme and UN partners, with this support, we managed to deliver eight separate life-saving shipments of medicines and medical supplies into the country,” Dr Al-Mandhari tweeted on Tuesday.
The pair called for Afghanistan’s health system to remain neutral and outside of conflict, and promised the WHO would continue its work in the area.
The country, taken over by the Taliban just over a month ago, is now facing cash and medical supply shortages, disruptions to the Covid-19 response and a drop in vaccinations for other diseases like Polio.
Many international organisations and governments have pulled funding, which makes up about 40 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, for fear of cash falling into Taliban hands. Even before the Taliban seized Kabul on August 15, 47 per cent of the population lived in poverty, according to the Asian Development Bank, and a third survived on the equivalent of $1.90 a day.
Dr Tedros said the lack of funding was having an impact on medical care, including treatment of victims of the August 26 suicide bombing outside Kabul airport, which killed 60 people and injured many more crowding for places on evacuation flights in the first days of the Taliban takeover.