In volatile Helmand, conflict shuts key health centres
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Frequent clashes between security forces and Taliban have led to the closure of at least four healthcare centres in southern Helmand, depriving thousands of people of services.
The clashes have spread to areas where the security situation was comparably good in the not-so-distant past, where many hospitals and schools have been shut down.
Public Health Director Mauladad Tobagar confirmed to Pajhwok Afghan News four healthcare centres had been shut in Nad Ali and Kajaki districts, depriving thousands of people of health services.
“They are key hospitals where around 10,000 patients received treatment annually, but they are no longer functional.” Medics and patients cannot refer to the hospitals due to security threats, but efforts are underway to reopen the facilities in Kajaki.
A total of 65 health centres, including three central hospitals run by the Ministry of Public Health and a number of health organisations, are located in Helmand, according to Tobagar, who said the Bost Hospital was providing standard health services.
Emergency Hospital, another large hospital, is treating civilians and military personnel who are wounded in the conflict. He said 216 injured people including women and children received treatment at the hospital only in the past 15 days.
Tobagaralleged residents of several areas, including Garmser district, had stolen equipmentfrom local healthclinics.He also complained some people interfered in their affairs. A shortage of lady doctors is another problem.
However, he did not provide details about those interfering in health affairs, but said they were local and Kabul officials. Tobagar asked all warring sides to them provide better services to the people.
A provincial council member, Hayatullah Mayar, told Pajhwok Afghan News a number of healthcare centres had been closed and their equipment stolen in Nawa and Nad Ali districts.He said the clinics had been shut by escalating fighting.
“These clinics have been damaged by locals, as the militants do not attack health centres and schools,” he explained.
Mohammad Essa, an inhabitant of the Kharaba area of Nawa district, said the local clinic had been closed as a result of clashes.
“People have to take their patients to Lashkargah for the treatment of any type of disease. It is a big problem for us,” he remarked, asking the officials concerned to reactivate clinic as soon as possible.
An attendant at Bost Hospital in Lashkargah, Haji Abdul Aziz, said: “I am a resident of Nawzad district, where there is only one clinic that gives two or three types of medicineto patients.”
He said people would not bring their patients to Lashkargah if there were sufficient medicine and doctors in their areas.
A patient in Bost Hospital, Abdul Malik, said: “I have come from Musa Kala district. Only one clinic is functional in our area but it has no medicine, and doctors.”
Most of people are obliged to evacuate their patients to medical facilities in Lashkargah, the provincial capital. Some of the patients are said to have lost their lives on the way to hospital.
Some days back, the Doctors Without Borders said people could not take patients to hospitals due to the conflict in Helmand -- one of the most unstable provinces of the country. Four of its districts are currently under Taliban’s control.
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