Health sectors in Lebanon, Afghanistan at breaking point, WHO warns

Geneva, Sep 23 (EFE).- The World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Thursday warned the healthcare systems in both Lebanon and Afghanistan are heading into collapse after health workers have fled en masse, leaving thousands of patients at risk of dying of easily curable diseases.

Tedros’ remarks came after recent visits to Beirut and Kabul, where crises, although stemming from different factors, have had a similar impact on both medical sectors, from escaping health personnel to severe shortages in medical supplies.

Nearly 40% of registered Lebanese doctors and up to 17% of the nurses have escaped the Arab country’s worsening socioeconomic crisis, while in Afghanistan, cases of measles, polio and malnutrition have been rapidly increasing among children amid a lack of personnel, money and medicine.

Gripped by its worst economic crisis since the end of its 15-year civil war in 1990, Lebanon is suffering from a shortage of foreign currency reserves necessary to import essential commodities such as medicines, medical supplies and fuel.

The situation was aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the catastrophic explosion at the Beirut port in August last year.

Hospitals there “lack equipment, fuel and electricity,” Tedros said in a press conference.

In Afghanistan, the WHO director-general met the prime minister and other officials from the Taliban government, which took power last month.

Maintaining a dialogue with the Taliban leaders is essential in order to support the people of Afghanistan, Tedros underlined.

Some 2.1 million coronavirus vaccine jabs in Afghanistan remain unused amid the healthcare system’s dire situation, according to Tedros.


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