Humanitarian Health Action

WHO to work with health authorities to increase health services for remote population in under-resourced Afghan province

5 October 2010 | Bamyan, Afghanistan – The World Health Organization pledged its commitment to work with health authorities in the under-resourced province of Bamyan to reach remote populations with increased health services. Several districts of Bamyan, including Yakawlang, Panjab, Waras and Kahmard remain inaccessible for long durations during the year due to harsh winter conditions. This hampers health service delivery and puts the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghans at risk.

"There is a real need to turn the spotlight on the good quality humanitarian work that is able to take place in Bamyan given its relatively secure situation in a country that is otherwise conflict-affected," said Peter Graaff, WHO Representative to Afghanistan. "We would like to reach every man, woman and child in Afghanistan with health services and we have to invest more where we can."

WHO intensified the coverage and quality of its work with a view to strengthening this partnership. The interventions include:

  • Reaching women and children with life-saving vaccination in difficult-to-reach areas.
  • Prepositioning emergency medical supplies in district hospitals to cover basic health needs of at least 50,000 people.
  • Reviving local income-generating activities that will empower the local population and in turn enable them to lead a healthy life.
  • Raising awareness and addressing stigma surrounding leprosy and Tuberculosis by talking to patients and their families, donating treatment drugs to the TB and Leprosy Centre and building a STOP TB partnership with the Government of Bamyan.
  • Local media reporters will be administering polio drops to children with an aim to involving them directly in polio eradication efforts
  • Introducing a major de-worming initiative targeting all children aged between 2-5 years as part of the nationwide polio campaign. De-worming is used to cure worm infestation, which can lead to serious micronutrient deficiencies, anaemia and malnutrition and consequently hamper physical and mental development.
  • Later this month, 200,000 school children in grades 1-9 in all Bamyan schools will also be given deworming tablets.
  • Strengthening the local Disease Early Warning System so that diseases are detected and treated early.

In addition to these interventions, WHO paid tribute to its polio staff member, Dr Afsar Khan Shinwari, who died in a road accident while on duty in rural Bamyan during a polio campaign earlier in this year. "His efforts did not go to waste and our team hopes to be back at the site where the tragedy occurred to commemorate his commitment to polio eradication efforts in Afghanistan," said Graaff.