No pay for staff. No patient supplies. No heat. This is health care in Afghanistan

In September, the World Health Organization issued a statement that the health care system in Afghanistan was on the verge of collapse. 

"Unless urgent action is taken, the country faces an imminent humanitarian catastrophe," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus following a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan's capital.

That has happened just as predicted, says Dr. Paul Spiegel, who returned in early December from a five-week trip to Afghanistan as part of a WHO team charged with investigating the emergency.

Medical staff aren't being paid. Hospitals are running out of medicine. And many hospitals couldn't even heat patient rooms.

Spiegel and other observers say sanctions imposed by the U.N. are the reason. Many countries that previously contributed huge sums to Afghanistan have stopped donating. The idea behind the sanctions is to encourage the Taliban, which took over in August, to abandon the kinds of human rights abuses that marked their previous turn in power.


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James Smith

Research Interests: Humanitarian Public Health, Global Health Politics,...

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