lørdag 2. mai 2020

Civil war, poverty and now the virus: Afghanistan stands on the brink

The main hospital in Zabul, southern Afghanistan, was abandoned after a Taliban attack last September destroyed most of the building and killed nearly 40 people. But when coronavirus slipped into the province this spring, desperate health authorities, casting around for ways to fight this new enemy, settled on its shattered remains.

The paediatric ward, the only part of the building still standing, was refurbished and opened as an isolation centre for patients with Covid-19. It now stands beside the ruins of the rest of the hospital as a symbol of the terrible double challenge Afghanistan faces in fighting the virus while still in the middle of a long and bloody civil war.

“After the Taliban destroyed our main hospital, something remained and we made a two-storey building from that to hospitalise Covid patients,” said Dr Lal Mohammad Tokhi, head of the pubic health directorate in Zabul. “We have plenty of protective materials like mask and gloves. We need ventilators but are expecting to get two from Kabul.”