Over 113,500 babies have been delivered across the country since January in 33 large hospitals supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as per Christine Cipolla, ICRC's regional director for Asia and the Pacific.
The ICRC has been taking immediate steps to save lives and keep health care facilities running in Afghanistan and has also been paying the salaries of nearly 10,500 health professionals (around one third of whom are women); the fuel to run heating, power generators and ambulances; and for patients' food and medicines, since the past 10 months.
However, Cipolla added that it’s not just the health care system that needs immediate support. Cipolla said that with more than half the population in need of humanitarian assistance and nearly 20 million people estimated to be acutely food insecure, the future is bleak for mothers and fathers of 100,000-plus babies born this year.
Cipolla stated that it is the moral and humanitarian obligation of organisations to ensure that the newborns of Afghanistan and their families are provided with the assistance they need. “States and development agencies must return to Afghanistan and continue their support for Afghans, who are already facing an unbearable situation,” Cipolla said.
Describing the healthcare system from nearly a year ago, Cipolla said that the medical system was about to shut down as the country's dedicated medical staff hadn't been paid in months, and the needed drugs and equipment for quality care weren't available.
Citing figures, Cipolla, said that mothers and pregnant women could not always be adequately treated as the country was already facing one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 638 women dying per 100,000 live births.
Stating that despite their best efforts, humanitarian organisations don't have the capacity to meet the growing needs of the Afghan population, Cipolla, recommended that without urgent international support and investment, millions of children, women and men face immediate life-threatening issues.