Underfunding compromises Afghan health facilities

A building at the top of a hill in Kabul  A building at the top of a hill in Kabul Photo by Suliman Sallehi by Pexels

06 September 2021

The funding pause of Sehatmandi project risks of compromising the access to health care in Afghanistan

 Since August 2021, a pause in funding for the Sehatmandi project, the backbone of Afghanistan's health system, has left millions of vulnerable Afghans at risk of losing access to essential health care. Indeed, more than 90% of these health facilities are now at risk of closing.

According to the World Bank, the Sehatmandi project is a multi-donor funded project that aims at increasing the utilization and quality of health, nutrition and family planning services across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. According to the Reliefweb, it is the main source of health care in the country, since it provided more than 20000 health workers at 2309 health facilities. The same source reports, in 2020 more than 30 million people benefited from health services provided through the project, in addition to 1.5 million children vaccinated. The funding pause went into effect in late August 2021, which means that more than 2000 of these health facilities are now at risk of closing. The closure of health facilities has consequences on the COVID-19 management too. Reliefweb states that only 3% of the 1318 COVID-19 isolation beds in Afghanistan will remain functional. This hinders efforts to contain COVID-19 amidst an increased risk of transmission due to the circulation of the Delta variant, low vaccination coverage and large-scale population displacement.If not urgently addressed, lost access to health care could lead to thousands of preventable illnesses and deaths. Women's access to female health workers would also be severely affected. 

To mitigate these impacts, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working with NGO partners to ensure continuity of services at around 500 prioritized health facilities affected by the funding pause. According to WHO news, the forms and health sector partners are requesting US$ 66 million to deliver essential and life sustaining health care services for 3.4 million people until the end of the year.









Author: Jasmina Saric; Editor: Gianpaolo Mascaro

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