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Afghanistan: “There is nothing we can do but watch children perish.”


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children perish

  • Tayabullah remains still and calm throughout the whole of his three months. The oxygen tube is moved away from his nose by his mother Nigar, who then checks to see whether she can feel him breathing by placing her finger just below his nostrils.

She starts to sob as she understands her kid is losing his strength.

children perish
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There isn’t a single functional ventilator in this hospital in Afghanistan.

Due to the lack of masks that can suit newborns' small faces, mothers hold oxygen tubes close to their babies' noses in an effort to do the duties that medical equipment or professional staff should perform.

We travelled to a cemetery by driving up a hill close to the Ghor hospital. Not even a caretaker is there, nor are there any records or registries. The identities of the deceased cannot be determined, yet it is simple to tell a large grave from a tiny one.
new burials are for children, which is a disproportionate ratio. Another neighbouring man informed us that youngsters make up the majority of the deceased these days.

children perish

The number of children who are dying may not be able to be counted, but there is ample proof of the crisis’ scope all around us.in Afghanistan pass away each day from diseases that should have been prevented and should have been treated with the appropriate treatment.

The quantity is astounding. ButAnd when you enter you’ll start to wonder if that estimate is too low.

There are several rooms full of ill kids, at least two on each bed, their little bodies devastated by pneumonia. 60 kids are cared after by just two nurses.

We counted at least twenty babies in one room who appeared to be in critical condition. In critical care, the kids should have been under constant observation, but that was impossible at this hospital.

However, for the one million residents of Ghor, this basic facility continues to be the best public hospital they have access to.

Afghanistan's public healthcare system has never been adequate, and the Taliban's takeover of power in August 2021 resulted in the freezing of the foreign funding that had been providing virtually all of it. We have travelled the country visiting hospitals and clinics over the past 20 months and have seen them collapse.

The Taliban’s current prohibition on women working for NGOs makes it more difficult for humanitarian organisations to function, endangering more toddlers and infants.

The Ghor hospital’s medical staff used what little they did have in an effort to resuscitate Tayabullah, having already been defeated by a shortage of supplies.

As fatigue and stress could be seen on his face, Dr. Ahmad Samadi was called to assess his health. A weak heartbeat was audible when he placed a stethoscope to Tayabullah’s chest.

Oxygen was brought in quickly by nurse Edima Sultani. With air flowing into it, she placed it over Tayabullah’s lips. Following that, Dr. Samadi compressed the boy’s tiny chest with his thumbs.

Tayabullah's grandpa, Ghawsaddin, was present and was shocked. He said that his malnourished and pneumonia-stricken grandson needed help.
I too had a baby, so when I witnessed the infant die, I felt as though I had lost my own child. My heart ached when I witnessed his mother crying. Being a nurse who frequently works 24-hour shifts, Nurse Sultani said, "It hurt my conscience.

The personnel is undertrained, particularly the female employees, and we lack equipment. Which child should we check on first when we have so many patients with critical conditions? We can only stand by and watch infants suffer and die.

Another youngster in critical condition with an oxygen mask on her face and difficulty breathing was visible in the room next door a few minutes later.

  • The cardiac abnormality known as patent ductus arteriosus, which affects two-year-old Gulbadan, was present from birth. This hospital provided a diagnosis six months ago.

We’ve been assured by doctors that the disease is neither unusual nor difficult to treat. The primary hospital in Ghor, however, is unable to undertake the simple operation that would allow for a correction. The drugs she need are not also present.

To stop the young child from removing her mask, Gulbadan’s grandma Afwa Gul tried to restrain her by holding down her small arms.
had to bring her back because we couldn’t afford the surgery, the woman said.
“I work as a worker. My income is not steady. She would not have endured such suffering if I had money. I’m not even able to purchase one cup of tea right now,” he stated.

What level of oxygen Gulbadan need, I enquired of Dr. Samadi.

He said, “Two litres per minute.” “She’ll die if we don’t find another cylinder when this one runs out,” the man said.

That is precisely what had occurred, we learned when we returned later to check on Gulbadan. She passed away when the oxygen cylinder ran out of fuel.

Because it only receives power at night and has a fluctuating supply of raw materials, the hospital’s oxygen production unit is unable to produce enough oxygen.
Two kids passed away from illnesses that may have been treated or avoided in a matter of hours. For Dr. Samadi and his coworkers, it is a heartbreaking but all too common blow.

“I am worn out and in pain. We lose one or two of the lovely Ghor youngsters every single day. We’ve practically adjusted to it now, he remarked.

We observed a disproportionately large number of distressed kids as we moved around the rooms. Sajad, who was one year old, had a hoarse voice. He has meningitis and pneumonia.

Irfan is lying in a different bed. His mother Zia-rah was given a second oxygen tube to hold close to his nose as soon as his breathing started to become laboured.

She gently kept both pipes as steady while wiping the tears from her cheeks with her upper arm.
What we witnessed in Ghor makes us wonder why Afghanistan’s public healthcare system is disintegrating so swiftly since the international community invested billions of dollars in it for 20 years, from 2001 to 2021.

If a provincial hospital does not have even one ventilator for its patients, where was that money spent?

There is now a stop-gap agreement in place. Humanitarian organisations have stepped in to finance the wages of medical personnel, the cost of drugs, and the cost of operating because money cannot be provided directly to the Taliban administration, which is not acknowledged internationally.

Now that funding, which was already dreadfully inefficient, might also be in jeopardy. Aid organisations caution that their donors may reduce their contributions due to the Taliban’s.

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