Afghanistan

Only Covid-19 hospital in Uruzgan shut down

Written by The Frontier Post

TIRINIKOT (Pajhwok): Officials of the Public Health Department in central Uruzgan province say the only Covid-19 hospital has been shut down to financial problems and lack of cooperation from donors. The 20-bed coronavirus hospital was inaugurated in Tirinkot, the provincial capital, in January 2021. Covid-19 patients from all districts, including Tirinkot, were treated here.
The facility was run by the Ministry of Public Health, with assistance from SHDP and MOVE in terms of equipment and staff salaries. Public Health Director Dr. Mohammadullah Rohani told Pajhwok Afghan News the hospital had ceased to operate after the expiry of its contract with donors.
He said coronavirus hospitals in some other provinces were facing the same fate, but UN agencies took immediate steps and kept them in operation. However, he added, the Uruzgan hospital’s fate hanged in the balance. The director said the coronavirus health centre in the province was closed some time ago and all health workers sent home.
For the past one month, the official continued, there had been no centre for the treatment and hospitalisation of coronavirus patients in Uruzgan. Rohani said the centre, having modern equipment, was capable of diagnosing every kind of disease. But these tools have now been placed in a warehouse.
Blood samples from suspected coronavirus patients in Uruzgan are now sent to neighbouring Kandahar province for diagnosis. He said efforts were being made to reopen the health centre in January 2022 with the support of MoPH and donor agencies.
He warned if the Covid-19 treatment centre in Uruzgan was not reactivated, many people would lose their lives to the disease. A source in the Uruzgan Public Health Department, requesting not to be named, told Pajhwok with the closure of the facility, work on a 50-bed hospital for coronavirus patients had also stopped.
He revealed 85 percent of work had been completed on the project that was initiated during the previous government. The source deplored work on the important project had come to a halt after the Taliban’s return to power. Mohammad Saleem, a resident of Tirinkot, noted the hospital had been closed after the emergence of Omicron. He asked MoPH to reopen the facility.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is concerned about the closure of 21 Covid-19 hospitals due to lack of financial resources, however the ministry says a number of international organizations are ready to fund some hospitals. Before the fall of the previous administration, hundreds of millions of US dollars had been provided to Afghanistan for the fight against coronavirus.
Also, former President Ashraf Ghani had allocated 1.2 billion dollars from the government budget to fight the virus. However, with the fall of the previous government on August 15, the US froze nearly $10 billion assets of Afghanistan and world community aid was stopped as well.
Dr. Javed Hajir, a spokesman for MoPH, told Pajhwok Afghan News that after the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, the ministry established a total of 38 hospitals to treat Covid infected patients. He said of the 38 hospitals, 17 are operational and the remaining 21 have been closed.
However, he did not name the inactive hospitals, but said that active hospitals reported new cases and fatalities of the virus. According to him, the ministry is in talks with various international donors to reactivate these hospitals while a number of organizations have agreed to fund some hospitals.
Hajir added the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) were among the organizations ready to fund a number of Covid hospitals. The spokesman said that the IOM had taken the responsibility for funding hospitals in Nangarhar, Helmand, Herat and Kandahar provinces. WHO and UNICEF have also pledged to fund four to five hospitals each.
He said adequate staff was available for coronavirus treatment, but said the main problem in the health sector, especially with regard to coronavirus, was the lack of financial resources and efforts were being made to address the issue.
According to him, the World Bank had pledged to fund coronavirus hospitals until 2024, but after the political changes, it stopped providing aid and the current problem was the financial problem in the health sector. Based MoPH figures, since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Afghanistan, 157,967 positive cases have been registered. Of these cases 145,492 people have been recovered and 7,354 others died of the infection.

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