Women’s Day: Ghor women lack access to healthcare services

A number of sick and pregnant women have raised their concerns about poor healthcare services in central Ghor province in Afghanistan, saying women’s access to medical services has declined since the Taliban takeover.

Roqia, an alias, a 24 year old pregnant woman, said that she doesn’t know when her baby is due as she has limited access to healthcare services in the province.

“Since the Taliban came [to power], the condition of the people has deteriorated; there is no doctor and medicine in our area, there is no female doctor, we are forced to come here [at the provincial hospital] when pain makes us impatient. I even don’t know how many months I am pregnant,” she added.

Roqia, who has another child, said that her family is dealing with financial problems and she has no idea how her child will be delivered.

Fariba, another pregnant woman from Ghor, also complained about the lack of access to health services in the Dawlat Yar district of the province. She added that women need regular healthcare during pregnancy but said they are deprived of treatment facilities.

“There is no health clinic or doctor in our area; women need to be examined at least once a month.  Many women give birth with many problems, sometimes it causes the death of the mother or her child. If women get access to  healthcare they will deliver their children without any problem,” Fariba added.

Shukria, an alias, whose baby boy was born at the provincial hospital, raised her voice over the bad treatment by midwives, stating that male doctors do a checkup of women before and after delivery.

“It is better to give birth in a hospital, but this time doctors and midwives did not pay attention to me and my child. They did not treat the patients properly,” she added.

Others also complained about poor health services in Ghor. According to them, Ghor province lacks expert physicians and health workers do not pay attention to patients.

Maryam, a resident of Firozkoh, told Amu TV: “In the past, the situation was better, but after the Taliban came into power, health services are poor quality and they do not pay attention to patients.”

A doctor, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Unfortunately, female doctors are disappointed, many female doctors left their jobs because of the restrictions and left the country, and there are few doctors in public hospitals. This problem exists not only in Ghor but in the whole of Afghanistan; the number of patients in hospitals has increased and they are facing problems.”

Another female doctor also stated that the space to work in for both male and female physicians is limited and for this reason, the provincial hospital cannot provide quality healthcare services.

“Taliban always monitor us in the hospital, we have very few doctors, two to three doctors; who cannot reach [all patients]; every day between 50 and 60 female patients, our salaries have reduced, we faced many problems. We don’t even have a gynecologist,” she added.

Female doctors also stated that they cannot travel to villages to provide medical services to patients. According to them, a large number of women in remote areas do not have normal births, and in many cases, either the mother or the baby dies.

The doctors added that hundreds of women and children probably have died in the province due to a lack of access to healthcare services.

The Taliban provincial officials, however, denied healthcare workers’ mistreatment, stating that all health personnel do their best to provide people with better medical services.

A Taliban official said: “Health personnel can work without any barriers. It is true that the Republican system did not do anything to improve the health sector. We are trying to gradually improve the health sector and to serve our people.”

Ghor is a mountainous and remote province where more than 85 percent of women, girls, children, and even men do not have access to standard health services.