“Respect the neutrality of health facilities” - WHO Afghanistan

6 Apr 2009

“Respect the neutrality of health facilities” - WHO Afghanistan

KABUL - One the eve of World Health Day a senior UN official has called for hospitals and medical staff to be protected in Afghanistan. “WHO would like to take this opportunity to call on all actors involved in the conflict to respect the neutrality of health facilities and health workers,” said Peter Graaff, the Country Representative for the World Health Organization in Afghanistan.

This year’s World Health Day campaign has particular resonance in Afghanistan as the campaign “Save lives, make hospitals safe in emergencies” is underscoring the importance of investing in health infrastructure that is able to withstand natural hazards, conflicts or a deteriorating situation. The year long campaign will highlight the important work of health facilities and workers and promote the need to ensure their safety.

In Afghanistan hospitals are vulnerable due to the geographical situation of the country, which makes it prone to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, but also due to the ongoing conflict in the country.

The UN’s World Health Organization is stressing this World Health Day that hospitals are among those buildings that have to survive during any natural disaster or conflict so that resulting casualties can be reduced. A poorly constructed hospital, which collapses during an earthquake because it was not built to the required specifications, increases the risk of death and injury.

Today in Kabul, WHO and the Ministry of Public Health jointly promoted the efforts to protect health facilities. At the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul, one of the oldest hospitals in the city, representatives from WHO and the ministry stressed the importance of ensuring the safety and protection of hospitals and staff.

“In recent years 50 health workers have lost their lives while providing services due to the conflict and 41 health workers were either killed or kidnapped,” said Dr Nadira Hayat the Deputy Minister of Public Health.

“I would also like to thank all health workers, especially those living in remote and difficult circumstances, for their hard work and commitment to helping the people of Afghanistan,” said Peter Graaff from WHO.

Despite the challenges in Afghanistan it is widely accepted that the health sector has made a remarkable recovery since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

By Nilab Mobarez, UNAMA

Website: World Health Organization