| 28 September 2022, Wednesday |

WHO chief, Taliban discuss ‘dire’ Afghan health crisis

The World Health Organization’s director-general said Wednesday that he met with the Taliban’s health minister to discuss Afghanistan’s “dire” health and humanitarian problems.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, said on Tuesday that he met with Qalander Ebad for discussions.

As Afghanistan’s new authorities deepen their international involvement, Ebad is part of a Taliban group visiting Geneva for a week of meetings with institutions and non-governmental organizations on humanitarian access and human rights.

As the United States completed its 20-year war in Afghanistan, the hardline Taliban organization reclaimed control in Kabul in mid-August.

Afghanistan has already descended into financial disarray, with inflation and unemployment skyrocketing, while the cessation of aid has produced a humanitarian catastrophe in a country already ravaged by decades of conflict.

Tedros had already seen Ebad on his visit to Kabul following the Taliban takeover in September 2021.

“Despite significant advances since then, the health situation in Afghanistan remains grave, and the extreme humanitarian crisis continues to endanger lives,” Tedros added.

He stated that they addressed the country’s health needs, system strengthening, disaster readiness, and educating the health professionals, with a focus on women.

“There is an urgent need in Afghanistan for diagnostics to detect the COVID-19 virus, particularly omicron, since the number of patients is increasing,” Tedros added.

The Taliban delegation is in Switzerland at the invitation of Geneva Call, an organization that works to safeguard people during times of violence.

From Monday through Friday, the organization is organizing a symposium on Afghanistan behind closed doors, with the goal of improving the unhindered distribution of humanitarian aid in the nation.

During their tour, the Taliban group will also meet with Swiss and other European authorities, as well as the Red Cross, however Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry has stated that its presence on Swiss soil does not represent acceptance of the rule.

Tedros stated that the WHO was assisting the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan, as well as its work on polio and measles vaccine programs.

“We also addressed progress on girls’ education at all levels, including higher education and assistance for joining the health workforce,” said the head of the UN health organization.

“WHO urges the international community to maintain engagement in order to help the people of Afghanistan and promote the health and well-being of all Afghans.”

  • AFP