Red Cross: Afghans’ Access to Health Care Access at Low Point

Posted October 3rd, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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The International Committee of the Red Cross says access to health care is at a low point in conflict-affected areas of Afghanistan.

ICRC's head of operations for South Asia told reporters in Geneva on Monday that many local clinics remain closed because of fighting, attacks on the premises or intimidation of staff.

The Red Cross says roads are mined or blocked by checkpoints so that people carrying the sick and wounded to the hospital face long delays. In addition, most Afghans in rural areas simply can not afford the cost of transporting people to a hospital for medical treatment.

The aid agency says conflict-related displacement is up over 40 percent in comparison to last year in parts of northern Afghanistan, because people no longer feel safe and are being intimidated into taking taking sides in the conflict.

Malnutrition has also increased in the south over the past year partly due to poor education, lack of security, poverty and poor hygiene. The Red Cross says the ongoing conflict is also a contributing factor.

The international group says that despite some improvements in the quality of life over the past decade, the security situation in many areas of Afghanistan remains “alarming.”