International Committee of the Red Cross
“Eating” or “warming up”… Afghanistan forced to make the ultimate choice Pneumonia and malnutrition are increasing among children
Kabul (ICRC) – As the economic crisis accelerates in Afghanistan, the number of children with pneumonia and malnutrition is rising sharply with the onset of winter, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on 24 November. did.
At 33 ICRC-supported hospitals across the country, the number of malnourished children has already exceeded 63,000 in 2022, up from 33,000 in 2021, a 90% increase. increase. Meanwhile, the number of pneumonia patients under the age of five being treated at the pediatric hospital we support in Kabul has increased by 55 per cent year-on-year.
Abdul Qayum Azemi, a doctor in charge of ICRC support operations at Indira Gandhi Hospital in Kabul, said: “Poverty in Afghanistan has been on the rise over the past few years. “Because they can’t do that, the number of children who get pneumonia is increasing. In the future, the number of patients with both pneumonia and malnutrition will increase.”
Despite the cessation of heavy fighting, Afghanistan remains a humanitarian concern. More than half of the population, 24 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance, and half, 20 million, are severely food insecure. International sanctions and the economic impact of the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine have deepened the crisis and put millions of Afghans out of their livelihoods. The prices of wheat, cooking oil and fertilizer are soaring, while people are losing their source of income and running out of savings. In addition, successive earthquakes, droughts and floods cast a dark shadow over agriculture.
“People in Afghanistan are faced with the ultimate choice of staying warm or eating. It’s on the rise,” said ICRC Program Director Martin Schep, who was in the country this week. “The needs on the ground are enormous and cannot be met by aid agencies alone. That is why governments and development agencies are turning their attention back to Afghanistan to reach the millions in need. We urge you to continue.”
We spoke with three Afghans about their current afflictions. Haji Wali, a day laborer with an 8-month-old child with pneumonia: “Even if you get treatment here, if you take her home, she’ll get sick again. I don’t have money, so I’ll keep my house warm.” I have already lost one child to pneumonia, so who can I turn to for help?” Mahjaveen, a mother of five: “The living situation is getting worse. Now I have no source of income and no money to take my children to the hospital when they are sick. Winter is here.” And we don’t even have anything to burn to keep warm.It’s just sad that the children don’t have clothes to wear.”
Abbas, who has been a timber merchant for more than 10 years: “Nobody has money, so there are no buyers. People can’t work, they don’t even have money to eat. Children are freezing in the winter. I have no choice but to let him go, or burn garbage to save his life.” To save lives in Afghanistan, the ICRC supports 33 hospitals with more than 7,000 beds. The contents include the purchase of medicines, operating expenses, and the payment of salaries to about 10,500 medical staff (one-third of whom are women). Such support will provide medical services to an estimated 26 million people. It also supports 46 facilities for basic health care and one hospital run by its domestic partner, the Afghan Red Crescent Society. In addition, this year, more than 10,000 of the most vulnerable households (80,000 people) received multipurpose cash to meet their basic needs. “Medical staff, women and men, are brave and dedicated to doing their best every day to save lives. But in the long run, humanitarian organizations will replace the public sector. There is a limit to how well it can function, and that is why the international community must be more active in supporting it,” said Shepp.
Details about this release: