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Politicizing the Health & Education System

By Mohammad Akbar Paiman

Education and health are the main pillars of social, economic, and political stability of a country.  The ministries of health and education are purely technical fields, and we MUST NOT let political interventions in our health and educational systems. However, it is not the case in Afghanistan because here politicians, ethnic and religious leaders are all-rounders, geniuses, eligible and qualified people for all the working field; therefore, they give themselves the right to intervene everywhere. This is the main reason behind the highest standards of our health and education systems—applause for our lovely leaders and politicians, that convert everything into the disaster.

The vast distance to health facilities, unavailability of roads and transportation means, and even lack of essential drugs in health facilities are factors associated with high maternal and child mortality in this country. Most of the health facilities and schools in Afghanistan are unfairly distributed and difficult to reach by needy people.  The unfair distribution of the clinics and schools is mostly contributed to the political interventions. Most of these elders wanted clinics and schools for their village only, DOES NOT matter how unreachable these facilities for the rest of the population are. The recent distribution of the key ministries (including health and education) between two rival factions in power sharing deal is the proof of the political influence in these technical fields. 

There raise an essential question of how this system is different from the Taliban regime, where both the MOPH and Ministry of Education were ruled by religious scholars (Mulla)?  More or less, the same with a bit different that at that time, everyone was Mulla while today everyone gets appointed by his/her ethnic and political background no matter how illiterate he/she is.

Our schools and universities graduate people with partial literacy that overburden the unemployment market in the country, which could be considered one of the reasons for increasing the percentage of addicts as well as young worries in the front line of the war on both sides.

The recent allegations of corruption on MOPH staff and clinicians and claims of ghost teachers across the country resulted in increasing the distance between the government and the public and further decline public trust in the government.

Ministers have to accept all illegitimate requests from members of parliaments and politicians and indirectly from the ethnic and religious leaders to keep themselves in power. This has dire consequences for both the health and education system in the country.  There are double standards for powerful and ordinary people “ law is the salve of the riches” that further increases inequalities, social injustice, and ultimately lack of trust in social institutions.

Reform of health and education system could result in positives changes in Afghanistan and pave the way to reform the whole of government. In order to tackle these chronic problems, Afghanistan must transform these two ministries into independent bodies that should not be responsive to the parliament and government. All selection and appointments should only be merit-based. Public hospitals and schools should charges small fees on patients and students, respectively, for paving the way to the financial empowerment of these institutions. Thus no minister, deputy minister, or other technical staff would need to get orders from the corrupt politicians, and only technocrats would play the leading role.

The wrtier is MD. MSc Epidemiology and biostatistics, Kabul Afghanistan

Courld be reached here: Akbar.paiman@gmail.com

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