Afghanistan, Between Conflict and Crisis
A Plea For Support In The Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic
At this time that coronavirus is disrupting our lives all over the globe and causing untold suffering, the impact of the pandemic is far worse in certain parts of the world. Places like Afghanistan where the Taliban are continuing deadly attacks on civilians; where more than half of the population is driven to starvation during the country’s shut down policy; where doctors and nurses lack the capacity and resources to effectively and safely fight COVID-19; and where the international relief is scarce but the demand for help enormous, the nation is being caught between an armed conflict and a public health crisis.
Afghanistan’s ongoing conflict and corrupt system of government have led to a weak and below standard healthcare system. Shortages of necessary equipment, supplies, as well as trained specialists in infectious diseases, respiratory medicine, emergency medicine and ICU are much felt in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around the world, COVID-19 has affected families’ financial independence and ability to afford healthcare and medical bills. Governments in the western world have been able to support fiscal measures to mitigate the impact on their citizens, however due to constraints similar measures have not been taken in poor countries including Afghanistan.
Motivated by this fact Global Watch Group issues a call to action to help Afghanistan in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
How is GWG helping?
In consultation with the local partners such as WHO, MOPH, Afghanistan Strategic Studies Institute and Herat Provincial Taskforce for COVID-19, Global Watch Group established several areas of urgent need during the crisis of COVID-19 in Afghanistan. However delivery of some of the urgent needs such as testing and RAN extraction kits, protective gears, and in-person trainings is a challenge given the current circumstances. While Global Watch Group is looking for ways to get these items to Afghanistan, in the meantime using a realistic approach we aim for what is possible and feasible at this time. In consultation with WHO in Kabul, the Ministry of Health and Heart Provincial Taskforce for COVID-19, we identified a need for strengthen the capacity of the Afghan healthcare providers working in the front-line to fight COVID-19, and provision of accurate information so that both health workers and patients protect themselves to prevent overwhelming and subsequent collapse of the healthcare system during the surge of covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, we aim to ensure adequate access of healthcare workers to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the hospitals that are designated for COVID-19 patient care. Currently, in some hospitals medical personal share the same PPE throughout the day due to shortage protective gears.
Activity 1. Global Watch Group mobilizes a team of bilingual Afghan-American clinicians and public health experts trained in COVID-19 care, treatment and surveillance, to participate in a short-term online training of medical personal in Afghanistan. Using web conferencing technology (Zoom Room) we will host live, interactive and engaging training webinars for local doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and public health personal. The webinar sessions will be recorded and uploaded in to a video-sharing platform on our website as well as social media platform for ongoing usage by healthcare providers in any parts of Afghanistan. Accurate information on how the population at large can protect themselves will be disseminated through online platforms and social media.
Activity 2. Due to ongoing challenges around dissemination of accurate and timely information and messages on COVID-19, GWG uses social media to provide timely and transparent information on COVID-19 to healthcare communities and general public in Dari and Pashtu languages.
Activity 3. Using social media platform and charity foundations Global Watch Group is seeking to raise $500,000 or more for the COVID-19 designated hospitals in Heart, Kabul, Mazar, Bamyan, and Kandahar provinces. The fund will be used for the purchase of protective gears for healthcare providers as well as financial assistance for COVID-19 patients’ hospital bills, medications and supplies, food for patients while in the hospital, and one time donation to the family of the COVID-19 patients.
Global Watch Group collaborate with the Afghan Medical Professional Association of America (AMPAA) on the short-term online training project. We also work with WHO-Kabul office, Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan, Herat Provincial Taskforce for COVID-19, and Afghanistan Strategic Studies Association on the short-term online training project as well as the delivery of support to the sick and needy COVID-19 patients and their families.
Why should you support Global Watch Group’s COVID-19 appeal?
The coronavirus pandemic is a reminder that we live in an interconnected world. No nation can fight this pandemic alone, and no community can be neglected if we are to effectively safeguard all people from COVID-19. Whilst fear and uncertainty for our own personal wellbeing is a natural response, we must not let that prevent us from reaching out to those most in need during this crisis.
We've all witnessed the most well-resourced, and resilient health systems struggle with the economic and health impact of COVID-19. Funds marked for international aid have been reallocated to national emergency responses. Unfortunately, this leaves a chasm between the resources available and the needs of developing countries already struggling against poverty and conflict.
We are one human family! Your donation to this cause will save lives. Join us in this humane cause and become a supporter and a distant responder in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
As a non-profit 501C(3), Global Watch Group provides receipts for tax exemption.
Since February of 2020 close to 150,000 Afghan refugees have returned home to Afghanistan. They fled the corona virus outbreak in Iran, one of the countries worse affected with the virus early on. The returnees entered through the Western Province of Herat, bordering Iran. Untested and unmonitored, they dispersed to other cities, towns, and villages throughout the country. According to the Guardian the returnees fled Iran for fear of the virus, and because the lockdown there had put them out of work. At the same time nearly 2,000 undocumented Afghan refugees in Pakistan returned to Afghanistan without proper testing and quarantine at the border.
Due to the lack of testing and quarantine of the returnees, it is not known how many corona virus positive people have entered the country. A total tabulation of refugees from Iran and Pakistan remains outstanding. The Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan warns that some 16 million people could become infected, and tens of thousands could die. The majority of confirmed corona virus cases are located in Herat, a transit point for many of those crossing into the country.
On March 28, after a long delay, the Afghan government ordered a lockdown in Herat and Kabul provinces. The lockdown greatly intensifies the humanitarian impact in an already traumatized population. Too many urgent needs including training of healthcare workers in infection prevention care, proper use of PPE, COVID-19 case management; lack of testing kit and RNA extraction kits; and lack of ventilators are among the urgent problem that arose over the past several days as efforts are made across the country to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.
Throughout March and April Afghanistan COVID-19 cases remained low, due to under reporting, lack of testing and the country’s unprepared and fragile healthcare system. However, in May the curve is on the rise. As of May 13, 2020 the number of cases has increased to 5,226 cases with 132 deaths in various provinces. The Afghan ministry of health is predicting infection of as much as 80% of the population, if necessary preventive measures are not followed.
In the absence of sufficient knowledge and capacity among the healthcare providers on COVID-19 case management, lack of equipped ICUs in all hospitals, lack of adequate PPE, and low public compliance with social distancing and quarantine measures, Afghanistan healthcare system is at a high risk of collapsing during the serge of the pandemic.
Covid-19 Online training of clinician in Afghanistan on Coronavirus case management May 03, 2020.
Dr Akran Babury presents a fact-based overview of COVID-19 to doctors across Afghanistan .