Red Cross ends financial support for Afghan healthcare

Kabul, Aug 31 (EFE).- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will no longer be responsible for the financial support of dozens of Afghan hospitals, as the Taliban takes over management from Friday.

“The responsibility (to manage the hospital finances) will be handed over on September 1,” health ministry spokesperson Sharafat Zaman Amar told EFE on Thursday.

The handover was initially scheduled for Aug.31 to enable Afghan authorities to fully take charge of the hospitals’ financial responsibilities, according to a statement from a Red Cross spokesperson.

“However, we are still speaking with donors in the hope of extending certain aspects of (the healthcare) program.”

The Geneva-based nonprofit has been managing Afghanistan hospitals since November 2021, a few months after the withdrawal of foreign forces in August of that year, to prevent the collapse of healthcare.

The program covered salary payments for hospital staff, offered financial support for medicines and medical supplies, and addressed hospital operating costs.

“The Hospital Resilience Programme (HRP) was a stopgap, emergency measure intended to prevent the healthcare system from collapsing following the change of authority in August 2021,” the ICRC spokesperson said.

The spokesperson noted that the return of the Taliban marked the abrupt departure of development agencies and funding, with the financial sanctions affecting the Afghan economy.

“The ICRC’s main goal was to temporarily maintain the country’s secondary health care system and prevent it from collapsing during a transitional moment for Afghanistan,” said the spokesperson.

Some 18 regional and provincial hospitals in Afghanistan and around 5,100 healthcare employees benefited from the Red Cross assistance program.

However, the nonprofit said the cessation of the hospital program did not mean the end of the ICRC’s health assistance to Afghanistan.

“We will continue to support critical programs such as physical rehabilitation, primary health care, economic security programs, water and sanitation, first aid, emergency and trauma care, and health care in detention,” it said.


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