ICRC to hand over 33 hospitals in Afghanistan to the Taliban

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Monday it plans to hand over the responsibility of 33 hospitals to the Taliban by the end of this week.

“A planned handover of responsibility was to occur on 31 August 2023, at which point the Afghan authorities would assume financial responsibility for all the hospitals,” ICRC said on Monday.

“This has been planned with transparency, and the health authorities have shown their willingness and determination to assume control and meet people’s health-care needs. However, we are now speaking with donors in the hope of extending certain aspects of this program,” said ICRC Afghanistan Head of Delegation Eloi Fillion.

“Just more than half of all Afghans need humanitarian assistance. What that really means: One in two Afghans can’t access medical care or don’t have enough food to eat. It means masses of malnourished children, people missing a limb, and freezing families on harsh winter nights all need help, but too few receiving it,” said Fillion.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has helped the people of Afghanistan in need for more than 40 years. “We will continue to be deeply engaged in coming months and years,” said the organization.

This program has paid the salaries of 10,900 doctors, nurses and staff at 33 hospitals across the country, an area serving 26 million people, ICRC said.

The Hospital Resilience Program was conceived as an emergency stopgap measure intended to prevent the country’s healthcare system from collapsing following the change of authority in the country in August 2021.

The ICRC’s goal was to temporarily maintain the country’s secondary health to enable the authorities to organize themselves to assume responsibility for the health-care system.

“We plan to continue supporting for the foreseeable future 47 Afghanistan Red Crescent Society primary health-care centres, which have a nutrition programme. We will also work with the Afghan authorities to improve health care in places of detention, including direct support for the clinics in Kandahar Sarposa Prison and Herat Provincial Prison. We will also maintain our support for seven physical rehabilitation centres, which treat over 150,000 people with physical disabilities each year,” ICRC said.

It added that they will also continue to support the emergency departments in Ghazni Regional and Provincial Hospitals and Rockha District Hospital in Panjshir, and they will continue to give weapon bearers first-aid training in various provinces.

Meanwhile, a number of Herat residents said that they are worried about the lack of healthcare services especially in districts and remote regions of the western province.

“The number of public hospitals is limited and it is a challenge. People are not able to pay for the expenses of healthcare services in private hospitals,” said Mohammad Ali, a Herat resident.

“Besides a bad economy, people have scarce access to health care services especially in remote areas,” said Sumayya, a resident of Herat.

The ICRC has called on the international community and development agencies to increase their support to Afghanistan and its vital public infrastructure.

The organization pointed out that humanitarian aid is required for an overwhelming number of Afghanistan people, many of whom have suffered for years.