Improving women’s access to health services in Kandahar subject of televised discussion
KANDAHAR - Afghan women must have greater access to health services, said panelists during a televised discussion in southern Kandahar province.
Part of UNAMA’s ongoing advocacy efforts for the protection of women’s rights, the panel discussion took place before an audience of about 70 people, including students from Mirwais, Malalai and Kandahar Universities and from the Kandahar Institute of Medical Sciences.
Panelists included the Deputy of Kandahar’s Public Health Department, Dr. Ahmadullah Faizi, District Governor of Panjwai, Haji Fazal Mohammad Eshaqzai, and representatives of Kandahar’s Independent Human Rights Commission.
“Significant progress has been made in terms of providing health services to women in Kandahar,” said Dr. Faizi. “We did not have a single female surgeon in the past, and luckily we now have more than 10 female surgeons in Kandahar; moreover, we have increased the numbers of health facilities in the districts where women can get treatment.”
UN agencies, in particular UNICEF and WHO, are providing crucial support in the health sector, Dr. Faizi went on to say, noting that their role in combatting polio and decreasing mortality rates has been indispensable.
Mr. Eshaqzai said that, in the past, cultural restrictions and lack of awareness prevented some women from attending clinics to receive necessary health services. He said that there is now a wider acceptance of the importance of women remaining healthy and, as a result, more women are seeking aid at health centres.
Audience questions to the panelists highlighted issues in the health sector, and pointed to a need to improve the health infrastructure in remote areas to and assign female nurses and doctors to perform duties in the districts.
The event, broadcast by Hewad TV to an estimated audience of 70,000 in Kandahar, follows earlier UNAMA-supported activities in the province – about women’s access to education and work – aimed in part at raising public awareness about women’s rights.
UNAMA is mandated to support Afghan institutions and civil society groups to protect women’s rights and access to health, is one of the fundamental rights of women.