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Kabul fails to improve health facilities despite getting millions in donations

Nadeem Alizai-The prolonged miseries of Afghans yet to be addressed by the government as hundreds of patients due to lack of quality health facilities in hospitals go beyond frontiers for treatment despite heavy costs. Decades of war paralyzing health sector compelled patients to go to India, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan mostly for medical treatment, bearing heavy cost of travel as well of expensive prescribed medicines and diagnostic tests. Modern hospitals equipped with best machinery are giving hope of cure to Afghan patients in these countries.

Although the health ministry claimed of better health facilities at the hospitals but public is not satisfied with these facilities as doctors are unable to find out the very reason behind their sickness. Misdiagnosing in private and government-owned hospitals is a common phenomenon leading towards several and severe health problems. The question which strikes mind is that millions of US dollars (USD) have been spent on health sectors since 2001, then why public has been denied access to standard healthcare and remote areas were ignored. Although, Public Health Ministry claimed that around 60 percent of the total population had access to the Basic Package Health Services (BPHS), but the claim to remain a claim as there are several areas in Afghanistan which has no health facility and were made to travel several kilometers in quest of a doctor or go abroad for the purpose.  Ahmad Zamir, who traveled to Pakistan for heart surgery, said that treatment was satisfactory in Pakistan but the cost was unaffordable.

He said: “Before leaving for treatment to Pakistan, I went to a government-owned hospital in Kabul. I stayed there for a week but instead of getting better my condition became worse day by day due to poor facility. Then my family shifted me to Pakistan for treatment, and now I feel better after surgery.” Yama, a shopkeeper told that he took his father to India for kidney check up and spent thousands of USD to cover medical and medicines fee as well hotel rent. Narrating his ordeal he said, “I borrowed the money to pay my father’s treatment fees at a hospital in New Delhi because we were not in the position to leave him on the mercy of poor standard hospitals here.”  Tariq Rahimi, a relative of a patient, who was referred to a private hospital in Kabul, told Afghanistan Times that although he spent all his hard earned money on the patient’s treatment but failed to see sign of improvement. “They were writing prescription after prescription, but my patient’s condition did not change. Now he is in a critical condition, so I have planned to take him to India for treatment,” he added.  Ajmal, a resident of Kabul said that there were no better treatment services in government hospitals as well as in private and the health ministry was responsible for it, because several patients lost their lives while many went to foreign countries due to fears presented by the poor healthcare facilities and incapable doctors. Dr Mussa Wardak, orthopedic specialist, while talking to Afghanistan Times confirmed that private and government hospitals were lacking modern health facilities and good doctors. He emphasized that the government should allocate more budget for health sector to overcome the prevailing problems. “Every airplane that flies to India has nearly 50 percent patients,” said he. He quipped that even foreign doctors working here were unprofessional and lacking modern day knowledge as if they were so skilled then why they were unable to work in their own homeland. Head of Wahaj Private Hospital, Dr Mohammad Hashem told this scribe that 30 year-old medical equipments were in use in most of government-owned hospitals. No improvement has been seen yet, because the health ministry is unable to pay heed towards the issue in past ten years. He claimed that private hospitals were better than the government ones. This scribe several times tried to contact Public Health Minister, Suraya Dalil, but received no response.

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