Highlight in June: Delivering life-saving health interventions to respond to the earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces of Afghanistan
A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the Southeastern Region of Afghanistan on 22 June 2022, affecting the lives of more than 360,000 people in Paktika and Khost provinces. A 4.2 magnitude aftershock hit Giyan District in Paktika two days after. The earthquake’s damage has been wide, impacting 17 districts across Paktika and Khost provinces. According to a Ministry of Public Health report published on 26 June 2022, 1,036 people were killed, 2,949 were injured, and 4,500 homes were damaged.
Within a few hours, WHO immediately activated an Incident Management Team in the WHO Afghanistan country office and mobilized emergency life-saving support to affected areas. This includes provision of more than 20MT of medical supplies (different TESK and IEHK modules), deployment of two mobile health teams (MHTs) in coordination with HMLO (LNGO), supporting trauma care and mass casualty management, providing physical rehabilitation and disability support services through implementation of ABRAAR (LNGO), assessment of health facilities in the affected districts, and shipment of more than 2000 vials of tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccines.
WHO also deployed surveillance support teams to Giyan and Barmal districts in Paktika and Spera District in Khost, the districts most impacted by the earthquake. As people were forced to live outside in temporary shelters with limited safe water and proper WASH facilities, WHO worked with the national disease surveillance and response (NDSR) team and began active surveillance to prepare for and respond to potential outbreaks of water-borne and vector-borne diseases, which are highly anticipated among people living in post-disaster deteriorated living conditions.
WHO is dedicated to supporting those with mental health issues caused by the earthquake, for example due to the loss of family members, friends, homes, and belongings. WHO’s mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) expert assessed the needs on the ground, provided technical support to the health partners, provided immediate Psychological First Aid (PFA) and conducted MHPSS counselling at hospitals and in communities.
In addition to a staff surge to the affected areas, WHO conducted several missions. The WHO representative visited Paktika and Paktya provinces from 25 to 27 July, including visits to Paktika Provincial hospital and Paktya Regional Hospital. The mission assessed the situation in the health facilities and discussed with the health authorities and community leaders on the health gaps, needs and the strategic response plan.