The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that Afghanistan is witnessing a rise in cases of child pneumonia and malnutrition as the economic conditions worsen there.
As per a new report, at 33 ICRC-supported hospitals across the country, child malnutrition cases are already 90% higher in 2022 compared to all of 2021, rising from 33,000 cases to over 63,000 so far this year.
The report also stated that number of children under 5 being treated for pneumonia has risen 55 percent in 2022 versus the same period last year at an ICRC-supported children’s hospital in Kabul itself.
“The poverty level in Afghanistan has increased compared to past years. Most people cannot buy material to keep their homes and children warm. They also cannot afford to feed their children properly so pneumonia cases are rising, and the number of malnutrition cases linked to pneumonia will rise, too,” said Dr. Abdul Qayum Azeemi, an ICRC doctor who coordinates ICRC’s programme in Kabul’s Indira Ghandhi hospital.
With winter setting in, the situation of Afghanistan remains alarming, ICRC stated. The deepening economic crisis further impacted by international sanctions and the economic consequences of the Russia-Ukraine international armed conflict makes it impossible for millions of Afghans to make ends meet. “Afghan families face an impossible choice: To eat or to buy heat. And, really, they can’t afford either, resulting in a frightening rise in malnutrition and pneumonia cases,” Martin Schüepp, ICRC’s director of operations, said during his visit to Afghanistan this week.
To provide life-saving assistance to Afghans, the ICRC is supporting 33 hospitals with a total capacity of more than 7,000 beds. The support includes paying for medical supplies, running costs and salaries to nearly 10,500 health workers – a third of whom are women. Those health services reach an estimated population of 26 million people. The ICRC also helps support 46 basic healthcare centers and one hospital run by the Afghanistan Red Crescent Society.