Hundreds of medical facilities in Afghanistan are on the verge of closure because Western countries that have been the key financiers of their operations for so long are prohibited from dealing with the new Taliban-led administration.
World Health Organization Regional Emergency Director Rick Brennan informed Reuters that roughly 90 percent of the 2,300 health facilities across the country might end up closing this week since Western donors have regulations that prevent them from dealing with the Taliban. Brennan did not, however, elaborate further.
"We are going to have a pause in operations in a large proportion of those (health facilities). By some estimates up to 90% will cease functioning probably later in the week and that will be associated with increased illness and death," Brennan said.
The official added that WHO is seeking to fill the gap by providing supplies, equipment, and financing to 500 health centers. The agency is also working with Qatar for medical deliveries to be delivered by plane.
"We are hoping to have up to two or three plane-loads of supplies airlifted from the government of Qatar probably into Kabul in the next week or so," he said.
Subsequent deliveries will include Covid tests and supplies to treat chronic illnesses.
Together with other aid agencies, the WHO has struggled to bring medical supplies, including trauma equipment, from the chaos to Kabul airport.
Medical supplies were flown through the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The WHO is also exploring the option of trucking overland from Pakistan, Brennan said.