Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Heath Sector Requires More Attention

Health sector in Afghanistan has always faced difficulties. No proper attention has been dedicated to the sector and as a result many people suffer. One of the major issues in the sector is unavailability of medicine and the quality of available medicine. There have been many cases when the quality of different medicine in the country has found to be of ordinary standard and in certain cases they have even found to be expired. Unfortunately, there is no data to show how many lives it has cost.
Encouragingly, now the government has started taking some interest in this regard. The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday said that all required medicines for the public health and security sectors would be purchased from authentic national and international companies totally costing up to $180 million annually.
Dr. Waheed Majrooh, the Public Health Ministry spokesman, told a press conference that based on a centralized medicine supply strategy approved by the High Economic Council on August 7, from now on all the needed medicine for the ministries of public health, higher education, defence and interior would be purchased under a transparent and accountable mechanism in order to ensure good quality and pave the way for domestic production of medicines.
He said the strategy had been formed with President Ashraf Ghani’s directives for better management and organisation of the medicine market and to address concerns about corruption in the pharmaceutical sector and supply of poor quality medicine.  
Majrooh said an initial survey by the Public Health Ministry showed 95 percent of medicine consumed in Afghanistan were imported from Pakistan, Iran, China, Turkey, India, the United Arab Emirates and some European countries. Of the medicine, 40 to 55 percent entered Afghanistan illegally and through smuggling.    
The official said $650 million were annually spent on purchasing medicines in Afghanistan, including $180 million by the government.
Though this would not solve the issue of the people as a whole, but it would play an important role in bringing authentic medicine within the country. Moreover to uplift the standard of health facilities as a whole, a great deal of attention and dedication is required. There are many health cases that never reach to the doctor, and many patients cannot find enough number of doctors or hospitals in different parts of the country.
It is really tragic to note that the number of people dying because of treatable diseases in our country is more than the people who die because of terrorists activities. Minor diseases that could be cured easily become a matter of life and death for the people because of unavailability of proper services. Our media and our concerned authorities mostly highlight the issue of terrorism and extremism but they fail to focus more attention on the issue that is more basic and more urgent. 
People mostly choose to go the neighboring countries for serious health problems. This may be convenient for the ones who are financially strong and they can afford, but the ones who cannot afford going other countries remain untreated and mostly neglected. It is really tragic for them as their own country cannot provide them even their basic rights.
Though there are government hospitals as well in the country, the quality of services provided by government hospitals is really very low, their number is not sufficient and they are not established in most of the remote areas; therefore, most of the people do not have access to them. On the other hand private hospitals have been established that can, in no way, be afforded by the people who do not have enough money to pay for their food.
Such a scenario is really dreadful and there should be serious efforts to deal with the situation. Short-term projects will never solve the health issues in Afghanistan. Afghan government and the supporting nations must pursue long-term strategies to handle the issue, if they want to help the people of Afghanistan.
At the same time, corruption and loose control, regarding the quality of medicine that is sold to the common people, are responsible for further debilitating the health of the people instead of supporting them during their ill health.
Previously an investigations in this regard showed that though millions of dollars had been poured into the health sector, there were many Afghans who had their nearest health center at a distance of three days and unfortunately two-thirds of pharmacies did not have professional staff.
Such a scenario is really dreadful and worth special attention; moreover, only lip service would do no good to change the scenario. Therefore, the authoritative people must take necessary measures and must curb the situation as the issue is very delicate and it is related to the lives of the people. Carelessness in this regard is a type of indirect murder.