Afghanistan: UN health agency sends medical supplies to avert displacement

27 September 2001

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today it was working to avert mass displacement across Afghanistan by shoring up the country's medical infrastructure in a bid to discourage people from leaving their homes.

"Though a functioning health centre alone will not keep people in a village or be the main reason why they return, it is an essential part of the jigsaw of social and economic support needed to avert displacement and encourage return," explained WHO's representative to Afghanistan, Dr. Said Salah Youssef.

The WHO official said adequate medical care could prompt families to decide to stay in the country. "If a family member is sick, the pull of health services in both the larger towns in Afghanistan and over the border in Pakistan can tip the balance between staying and going," said Dr. Youssef.

Together with the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), WHO is working to raise funds for projects which will help people to stay in their place of origin. Among other measures, the agency plans to refurbish basic health centres that have fallen into disuse because of inadequate drugs, poor equipment and lack of pay for staff.

WHO also hopes to pre-position drug supplies to allow quick response to epidemics in Afghanistan. In addition, the agency is helping with water quality monitoring while supporting intensified health education campaigns.

 

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