Lack of aid, surging patients dry up Afghanistan’s blood bank
Kabul, Apr 7 (EFE).- “I am tired, I’ve been running around for three hours looking for blood. If you have the same blood group, please help us,” pleads Wasima, who like hundreds of Afghans has been affected by the shortage the country’s Central Blood Bank is facing due to a lack of international aid and an increase in patients.
Wasima, desperate to find blood for her little brother, told EFE that the institution had run out of A- blood that day.
The Asian country’s main body to collect and distribute blood to hundreds of patients daily is practically dry, the director of the blood bank, Dr. Mohammad Nasir Sadiq, told EFE.
“We have over 1,200 registered patients, most of them are children with thalassemia and hemophilia and all of them need fresh blood, which is a challenge in the current situation for us,” he said.
The blood bank is overflowing with patients and the international organizations that largely managed the center have halted their activities in the country after the Taliban banned Afghan women from working in nonprofits in December.
“Previously, the international aid helped us to have facilities, such as bus drives to collect fresh blood, but this assistance stopped,” said Sadiz, who urged the international community not to “politicize” aid.
However, the Taliban ban has angered the international community, which appears to have turned off the aid tap.
According to the United Nations, so far this year the agency has only received less than 5 percent of the funds required to help the country, making Afghanistan the lowest funded aid operation globally, despite facing the world’s largest and most severe humanitarian crisis.
Moreover, a decrease in donors due to the Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan as well as a shortage of medicines put patients’ lives at risk, according to the official.
“Despite the government trying their best to provide the necessary medicine, there is still a lack of medicines such as the vaccines and tablets that thalassemia patients need after transfusion,” Dr. Abdul Hameed Zaheer, director of the thalassemia and hemophilia ward, told EFE.
Afghanistan’s economic crisis, worsened by the Taliban’s arrival in power in August 2021, has resulted in many families unable to afford treatment.
Sadiq recalled how one person was forced to sell his shoes to get his son treated at the hospital.
Abdul Hadi, 65, from the remote northeastern Ghor province, told EFE that he had been forced into debt in order to get his son, who has a liver disease, treated at a hospital in Kabul.
“I even borrowed money for transportation, so how can I buy medicines and blood?” he said.
And that too, when the blood bank has blood.
“Sometimes I need blood for my son and the hospital doesn’t have it, so I rush out and ask people to donate blood, but it’s very hard to find someone with the same blood group,” Hadi said.
Mohammad Asif knows well the desperation of searching for blood against the clock.
Every one-and-a-half months, Asif needs to procure blood for his little sister, who suffers from thalassemia, a hereditary blood disorder that causes one’s body to have less hemoglobin than normal.
His younger blood too died of the disease at the age of 14.
“I don’t think this disease has a solution except giving blood. We gave blood for 14 years to my brother, but finally, he died at age of 14 due to several diseases caused by the blood transfusions,” he said. EFE