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UN health agency dispatches 300 tonnes of medical supplies to aid Afghans

UN health agency dispatches 300 tonnes of medical supplies to aid Afghans

WHO staffers coordinate dispatch of medical supplies
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has dispatched 300 tonnes of medicines and supplies to help 3 million people survive winter in Afghanistan, a spokesperson for the agency said today.

“In a humanitarian crisis, food, shelter, and water are the essential components needed to save lives, but without medicines to treat common diseases, fatality rates can skyrocket,” Lori Hieber-Girardet told reporters in Islamabad. “The supply of essential medicines and supplies to Afghanistan is critical because many Afghans are not able to purchase required medicines.”

According to WHO, the biggest killers of Afghans are measles, acute respiratory infections, pregnancy-related complications, diarrhea and tuberculosis. The agency’s emergency health kits equip hospitals and clinics with the supplies needed to treat these diseases, and offer other essential health services. “Many health clinics and hospitals would not have been able to provide even the most rudimentary services to needy populations throughout the past several months without these supplies,” said Ms. Hieber-Girardet.

WHO sends three types of health packages to Afghanistan and the region: emergency health kits, which contain essential drugs for 10,000 people for three months, burn dressing modules, providing 40 sterile dressings for burn cases, and trauma kits furnishing surgical supplies for 100 cases.

So far, the agency has dispatched some 357 emergency health kits to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Each one-tonne kit contains 24 boxes of carefully chosen items, such as essential drugs, minor surgical equipment, and hospital supplies such as gloves and feeding tubes. “Emergency health kits enable health workers to treat a vast array of diseases, including asthma, malaria, allergies, peptic disorders and even worms,” said Ms. Hieber-Girardet.

“In the months ahead as Afghanistan moves from an emergency to a reconstruction phase, it is important that the provision of essential health supplies also adapt to the developing situation,” the spokesperson noted. She said WHO plans to work with the Afghan Ministry of Health this year to develop a $25 million essential drugs programme.

“By combining emergency relief and long-term planning, WHO is working to ensure that all Afghans are able to receive the medicines needed to save and improve their lives,” she said.