31.01.2022 – 06:00
Save the Children Deutschland e.V.
Berlin / Kabul (ots)
More and more children in Afghanistan are suffering from pneumonia, which without medical help can be life-threatening. Even before the most recent crisis, pneumonia was responsible for one in five deaths in children under the age of five in Afghanistan. It is the world’s deadliest infectious disease for children, especially when their immune systems are weakened by malnutrition.
Save the Children uses mobile clinics to provide vital medical care in hard-to-reach areas. “Cases of pneumonia are increasing every day and the number of patients has doubled or even tripled in the last few months,” says Dr. Sadat*, team leader of one of the Save the Children mobile clinics. “It’s much worse than last year. Sometimes hundreds of mothers and children are waiting for us. The families don’t have the money for food or for heating. For malnourished children without protection from the cold, pneumonia can very quickly be fatal.”
A doctor working in a hospital in northern Afghanistan confirms this observation. He has never seen so many cases of pneumonia and severe malnutrition in children. The children lie in twos, threes or even fours in a hospital bed. In December, 135 children died in hospital or on the way there – most of them from pneumonia, 40 from severe malnutrition. If the malnourished children could have received medical care, they would have had a chance of survival.
According to a Save the Children survey, more than half (55 percent) of households surveyed were unable to obtain medical care as of December. The reason for this is the collapse of the healthcare system, which is mainly due to frozen funds and aids. Half of the parents surveyed also reported that their children had contracted pneumonia within the past two weeks.
One of these children is nine-year-old Wazhma*. The girl lives with her family in a village on the outskirts of Kabul. There, the majority of residents have lost their jobs and parents are skipping meals to at least feed their children. Wazhma* fell ill with a high fever and a cough that made it difficult for her to breathe. Her parents could not afford to take their daughter to the hospital and had to ask a friend for a loan. “If he hadn’t given us the money, Wazhma* would definitely not have survived,” says her father Samir*. “She gasped, it was scary. It’s because of the freezing temperatures and because people here can’t heat their homes.” Wazhma* was rescued in hospital, unlike many other children in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s economy is in free fall and more than 95 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Clinics across the country had to close because there was no money. Save the Children is calling on the international community to release vital funds to support health systems and save lives.
In 2021, Save the Children’s mobile clinics in Afghanistan provided nearly 375,000 screenings and treated more than 12,000 children for malnutrition. The children’s rights organization is distributing cash, winter clothing and fuel to families in some of the hardest-hit areas to help them survive.
Notes for editors:
The Save the Children survey took place between November 18 and December 2, 2021. 1,209 adults and 1,206 children were surveyed in Balkh, Faryab, Jawzjan, Kabul, Nangarhar and Sar-e-Paul provinces. The evaluation revealed the following:
o 725 households reported that one or more members of the family had contracted pneumonia in the past two weeks (60 percent of all households)
o 591 households reported that one or more children in the family had contracted pneumonia in the past two weeks (48.9 percent of all households)
o A total of 930 cases of pneumonia were reported
o 716 cases of pneumonia were reported in children – 77 percent of all cases. Of these, 396 cases were reported in children aged 0-5 years (42.6 percent)
o 85.2 percent of households reported needing health assistance in the past three months. Only 44.6 percent of these households were able to get medical help. Of these households, 57.6 percent reported that they could not afford the cost. 47.1 percent said distance to the health facility was an obstacle, 31.2 percent cited safety reasons, and 20 percent could not afford transportation there
o 30.9 percent of households said they would seek medical help only in life-threatening situations
o 81.1 percent said the nearest healthcare facility was difficult to reach
Additional material for download:
Photos and experience reports from Samir* and his family:
Photos and testimonials from Dr. Sadate*:
Under © Save the Children, the material can also be used free of charge for passing on to third parties.
Über Save the Children:
In the post-war year of 1919, British social reformer Eglantyne Jebb founded Save the Children to save children in Germany and Austria from starvation. Today, what is now the largest independent children’s rights organization in the world is active in around 120 countries. Save the Children works for children in wars, conflicts and disasters. For a world that respects children’s rights. A world in which all children can live healthy and safe and grow up and learn freely and independently – for over 100 years.
Save the Children Deutschland e.V.
Press Office – Marie-Sophie Schwarzer
Tel.: +49 (0)30 – 27 59 59 79 – 226
Mail: [email protected]
Original content from: Save the Children Deutschland eV, transmitted by news aktuell