Health care elusive for Afghans 10 years on: ICRC
Ten years after the ouster of the Taliban, access to health care is critically low for Afghan civilians in conflict zones, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Monday.
"Access to medical care is at a critically low point in conflict-affected areas, with local clinics closed in some places because of fighting, attacks on premises, or intimidation of staff," the organisation said in a statement.
"Despite improvements in the quality of life for certain sectors of the population over the past decade, the security situation in many areas of the country remains alarming," the statement quoted Jacques de Maio, the ICRC's head of operations for South Asia, as saying.
"We are particularly concerned about civilians in the line of fire, families displaced with nothing left, the sick and wounded who cannot obtain health care, and health workers harassed while providing care for a desperate population," de Maio said.
"Roads are mined or blocked by checkpoints, so that people carrying the sick and wounded to hospital face long delays, sometimes with tragic consequences," he added.
Because of widespread poverty, "many Afghans simply cannot afford the cost of transport to get the sick and wounded to hospital from remote rural areas."
In parts of the north, conflict-related displacement is up more than 40 percent compared with last year.
"People in many areas, including in the central regions of Wardak and Logar, say they no longer feel safe because they are being intimidated and coerced by all parties into taking sides," de Maio said. "All they actually want to do is to keep out of harms way."
"It is imperative that the victims of this continuing and multi-faceted armed conflict receive protection and assistance," he added.
In addition, malnutrition has increased in the south over the past year, with the ongoing conflict, poor education, lack of security, poverty and poor hygiene all playing a role, the statement said.
© 2011 AFP