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UN Warns of Worsening Health Conditions in Afghanistan

FILE - Female nurses takes care of patients at Wazir Akbar Khan hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 1, 2021.
FILE - Female nurses takes care of patients at Wazir Akbar Khan hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 1, 2021.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric warned Wednesday of deteriorating health conditions in Afghanistan, which the Taliban seized in August following the pullout of U.S. and allied troops after 20 years.

At a daily briefing, Dujarric said there had been a decrease in access to health care, that cases of measles and diarrhea were rising, that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed and that there had been a resurgence of polio.

The U.N. spokesman said the World Health Organization had reported that only 17% of the more than 2,300 health facilities previously supported by the World Bank were fully functional and that two-thirds of them had run out of essential medicines.

The WHO is working with donors to sustain health facilities to prevent a surge in deaths, Dujarric said. He also said the World Food Program and UNICEF committed on Tuesday to scaling up their work in Afghanistan with up to 100 new mobile health and nutrition teams.

Dujarric also told reporters that the U.N. Population Fund had said that midwives throughout Afghanistan were continuing to operate, bringing lifesaving care to women and girls in need.

He said Afghanistan’s Flash Appeal was asking for $606 million to help 11 million people for the rest of the year by preventing avoidable deaths and displacement and reducing suffering. U.N. Flash Appeals are issued in response to new humanitarian crises, emergencies or disasters.

Afghanistan’s Flash Appeal is 22% funded, which, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, amounts to $135 million.

VOA’s Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.

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