Health care collapse in Afghanistan threatens lives of millions

Health care in Afghanistan has literally collapsed in a matter of months, disrupted by conflict and starved of foreign assistance, according to UN agencies and NGOs working in the country. Thousands of medical staff have not been paid in six months and clinics have no medicine or equipment.

There are chronic food shortages. More than 12 million Afghans face hunger and depend on food aid, according to the UN; malnutrition is rising sharply. There is an acute shortage of cash, making it difficult for NGOs still working in Afghanistan to pay salaries and buy supplies.

Among the most vulnerable to Afghanistan’s health crisis are women and children. Every two hours an Afghan woman dies in childbirth — a statistic horrifying enough even before the impact of the current health care crisis is felt.