Alarm bells ring over shortage of female doctors at Ghor hospital

Ghor provincial hospital, Ghor province, Afghanistan.

Medical staff and officials at the Ghor provincial hospital have raised concerns over the shortage of women doctors, saying this has led to female patients not receiving adequate treatment.

Shukrai Azizi, a midwife, told Amu TV that there is a serious shortage of female doctors. “No female specialists are available in the provincial hospital. There are two gynecologists in the gynecology department, and they are not able to take care of all the patients, and health services are not provided properly to expectant mothers,” Aziz said.

A number of patients and their attendants said mostly male doctors take care of patients due to the shortage of female physicians.

One attendant, Khadija, said her daughter-in-law underwent a cesarean delivery and male doctors performed the surgery.

“My daughter-in-law could not deliver normally, and male doctors and a female physician did the operation,” Khadija told Amu TV.

A 26-year-old Salima patient said that because of the shortage of female doctors, women are forced to see male doctors.

“I was suffering from stomach ache; when I got to the hospital, there was no female doctor, and the midwives told me that they cannot proceed with the treatment. They directed me to the emergency ward so that male doctors could do the checkup,” she said.

A number of women activists also raised their voices over the shortage of female doctors at the Ghor hospital. They warned that maternal deaths could increase if the problem is not resolved.

“If a hospital does not have a specialist and experienced female doctors, there is no doubt that the death rate of expectant mothers during childbirth will rise. More women will lose their lives due to diseases,” women’s rights activist Razia Ahmadi said.

Women activists and patient attendants called on the Taliban government and organizations to pay “serious attention” to the issue and to provide better healthcare services in the province.

Ghor health directorate did provide details on the matter and hospital officials confirmed there was a shortage of female doctors in the province.

Abdul Ahmad Noori, the head of the Ghor provincial hospital, told Amu TV that there were only two female doctors working at the hospital.

Noori added that he has discussed the problem with relevant authorities in Kabul and in health institutions and that they are working to address the matter.

“We don’t have a specialist; neither in the internal medicine department nor in the surgical department; two doctors are working in the hospital in the obstetrics and gynecology department, and even with these two women, the services cannot be provided properly, we hope that attention will be paid in this regard,” Noori added.

Ghor province is among a number of provinces that get snowed in winter, which disrupts the movement of people from remote areas into the provincial capital – making it even more difficult for them to get medical treatment at the hospital when needed.