Afghanistan’s health system is collapsing with new COVID case surge

02/09/22 By Li Lucy Brandt

COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan are surging among health system crises where doctors and hospital staff have not been paid in months, COVID tests are not available, and where about 90% of Afghanistan’s population falls below the poverty level.

Photo courtesy of MGN

While only five out of 33 hospitals are open and treating COVID patients, the rest were forced to close due to lack of staff, no heat in freezing temperatures, and missing medical supplies. 

Only 27% of the population are vaccinated, mostly with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and while there are no tests to accurately report virus cases, people are ignoring mask mandates and regulations. The country’s people have been living in fear ever since the Taliban took over the country in August of 2021. Afghanistan’s economy has crashed after almost $10 billion in assets abroad were frozen after the takeover.

Out of the few thousand people that were able to get tested for the virus in the last week, 47.4% tested positive. The public health ministry is now in negotiations with the World Health Organization (WHO) to fund one of the remaining hospitals to keep it running until at least June. Afghanistan’s remaining hospitals won’t be able to stay open, should they not receive help soon.