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Editorial: Quality services

Afghan government has been working with donor countries and organizations to explore solutions to the country’s many pressing needs. Most of the efforts are visible on papers. Situation on the ground is presenting a gloomy picture as writ of the government is limited to major cities. Poorly drawn development strategies and endemic corruption are other reasons behind snail-paced progress which are often faced by setbacks. Moreover, over half of the government budget comes from donors. Relevant ministries and authorities have failed to fashion an economic environment in which the private sector can grow. Abduction of businessmen or their family members for ransom is speaking volumes about the fragile business environment in the country.

Economic growth is not the only challenge to overcome. Poor healthcare infrastructure is another issue that should be addressed on war-footing because hundreds of Afghans visit neighboring countries for medical treatment. Ministry of Public Health has failed to achieve the targets. In many areas the ministry has failed. The fruitless efforts are proven by the polio case emerged in Bermal district last month. Rampant corruption in the ministry is a hurdle which should be removed to address the pressing needs. The government is pleased by the quantity rather than the quality. Quantity does not matter when it comes to improved healthcare services.

The deputy health minister Ahmad Jan Naeem stressed on the need of quality healthcare services. He said that numbers of the health centers has increased in the past decade but there was more need to ensure these centers were providing optimum quality services. The deputy minister also claimed improvement in the health services since 2003. There is no denying that the ministry has initiated different steps to improve the healthcare infrastructure but is also true that the country has not achieved the perceived objectives. Without improved health infrastructure the country would not develop. There is no second opinion in this.

As far as the claims of healthcare services improvement are concerned, there is much to be done. The whole nation and international community have seen an Afghan woman giving birth to a child outside of the gynecology ward in a hospital in the capital city, Kabul. It shows poor healthcare infrastructure and services in the state-run hospitals. In the presence of such cases the government cannot claim that healthcare services improved.

Therefore, the health ministry shall take result-oriented steps to make sure the citizens have access to free, easy and optimum quality healthcare services. Only statements would not bring positive changes. Change is ushered by sincere efforts and productive policies backed by timely actions rather than words.

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