Herat hospital reports surge in respiratory illnesses

Doctors at Herat Regional Hospital, a public health facility, have observed a significant rise in respiratory illness cases over the past month. These cases constituted about 25% of hospitalized patients.

Dr. Daud Hashemi, the hospital’s chief, noted an increase in patient visits, with daily numbers ranging from 300 to 350 in the last month (Dec. 22 to Jan. 20).

“Respiratory diseases accounted for approximately 25% of these visits. Of the 1,504 patients hospitalized during this period, 386 were suffering from respiratory conditions,” Hashemi said.

Medical professionals attribute this increase to drought, dust, and worsening air pollution. Local residents are also concerned, especially as winter approaches and the use of low-quality fuels for heating contributes to air pollution in Herat.

Herat City in the west of Afghanistan.

Mohammad Anwar, a Herat resident, highlighted that women and children are particularly vulnerable to these respiratory ailments.

Another resident, Asifa, expressed her distress about the cold, dusty, and polluted air causing breathing difficulties.

“The weather is cold, the air is polluted, and there’s dust everywhere outside. It’s causing us breathing problems,” she said.

The World Health Organization previously reported that respiratory infections rise in winter across Afghanistan. Over 1.31 million cases of acute respiratory infection have been recorded nationwide.

Similar concerns were raised last week by doctors in Kabul, noting that the city’s air pollution has led to an increased prevalence of respiratory diseases.