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Taliban shut down all health facilities in Zabul

AT-KABUL: Taliban militants have closed all health facilities in southern Zabul province since start of this week, depriving over 300,000 poor villagers even from basic health services, provincial authorities said Tuesday.

Lal Muhammad Tukhi, Zabul Public Health Director confirmed that 39 of the 46 health facilities in all 10 districts of the province have been closed by Taliban earlier this week, depriving more than 300,000 poor residents from having access to even basic health services.

Only seven health facilities are open in Qalat city of the province and the rest in all 10 districts have been closed to the poor residents, who have to travel more than eight hours to shift their patients to Qalat city.

“We are dealing with high number of patients, children and women are arriving after several hours of exhausting journey from remote district to Qalat hospital for treatment” Tukhi said.

The director said the situation for pregnant women is “painful” as they have to tolerate eight hours of travel through unpaved roads with high risks of land mines to arrive in Qalat hospital for child delivery. “This put the life of both, mother and newborn baby in danger, when they don’t arrive in hospital on time” he noted.

Gul Islam Saial, the spokesman for the provincial administration claimed Taliban closed the clinics to push government to lift the years-long ban on motorcycle riding in the province.

“Our officials discussed the Taliban demands, but keeping in mind the security impact of the motorcycles, the officials decided not to lift the ban, because Taliban widely using motorcycles in terrorist attacks and armed attacks against security forces” he said.

The United Nations Offices for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in its recent updated weekly issue also confirmed the closure of “all” 46 health facilities in Zabul and warned it has deprived an estimated population of over 300,000 in the less developed southern province.

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