Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Afghanistan’s Poor Health Care System

The condition of health care system in Afghanistan seems to worry everyone. Even the President, himself, has concerns regarding the system and believes that much work needs to be done to change the scenario. On Tuesday, October 3, while talking in the inauguration ceremony of Afghan Medical Council in Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani agreed that the medicines in the country are of poor quality. He said in his statement, “A circle of evil has contracts with the medics and medical stores and they supply them with low-quality medicines, this situation has to change.”
There is no doubt in the fact that the 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.
Though the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has promised on various occasions that there would be extra attention given to the sector and it would be ensured that all the required medicine for the public health and security sectors would be purchased from authentic national and international companies, there are still concerns that in reality the practices are quite different from the promises.
It has to be noted that 95 percent of medicine consumed in Afghanistan are imported from Pakistan, Iran, China, Turkey, India, the United Arab Emirates and some European countries. Of these medicines, 40 to 55 percent enter Afghanistan illegally and through smuggling. According to the estimates by MoPH, more than $650 million are annually spent on purchasing medicines in Afghanistan, including $180 million by the government.
It is of utmost important to realize the fact that in order to uplift the standard of health facilities in the country 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. There are many people who visit Pakistan and India every year for better medical facilities. 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.