Afghans face a greater risk of disease and infection, including Covid-19, as overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions have weakened the prevention measures in place, the World Health Organization said.
The situation in Afghanistan has forced thousands of people “to leave their homes to escape conflict and other threats over the past two months,” said Dapeng Luo, the WHO representative for the country.
“The movement and mixing of newly displaced people, coupled with the majority of them living in often overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, has significantly limited infection prevention protocols and increased the risk of transmitting different diseases. [types] infections, including Covid-19, ”he added in comments sent to the Financial Times over the weekend.
Afghanistan, from January 3 to August 19, detected 152,411 cases of Covid-19 and 7,047 deaths while 5% of its population received at least one dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus.
“We are concerned that peaks of Covid-19 among internally displaced people could lead to further transmission across cities due to [this] very low vaccination rates, ”said Luo, which will add to the burden on the health system.
“A new wave of Covid-19 could leave some of the most vulnerable without critical health care,” the WHO representative said.
However, the world body plans to stay on to fight the spread of the pandemic. “In the current situation, the response from Covid-19 has suffered a few setbacks but has not stopped,” he said. Intensive care has continued and is being intensified.
WHO is focusing on diagnosis and testing, clinical care, vaccination, referral of positive Covid-19 cases, provision of supplies, training and infection prevention.
Last week, a group of leading non-governmental organizations pledged to stay in Afghanistan, even as conflict, drought and Covid-19 lead to a surge in humanitarian aid needs.
The statement by the Directors of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Afghanistan was signed by key figures, including David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program.
“The Afghan people need our support more than ever,” the committee said. “Our organizations are committed to helping and protecting them.