Despite continually rising health needs in Afghanistan, WHO and partners are aiming to turn the situation around by stepping up their support. The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) has provided US$ 45 million to WHO and UNICEF to sustain 2331 primary and secondary health facilities in 31 provinces (previously supported under the Sehatmandi project) from November 2021 to January 2022. Thanks to this, essential medicines, medical supplies and fuel for heating were provided to the health facilities just in time for the harsh winter ahead. The funding also covers other operational costs, including salaries for around 25 000 health workers.
Support to further sustain these 2331 health facilities has been aligned through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) that will provide UNICEF/WHO with US$ 100 million to deliver essential health services from February-June 2022. Three out of 39 COVID-19 hospitals will also be supported as part of this funding.
However, this is still not enough. Afghanistan is currently facing five outbreaks -- acute watery diarrhoea, measles, polio, COVID-19, and malaria -- which have increased the burden on the already fragile health system. There are over 1000 health facilities and around 10 000 health workers who are not covered by the support being provided through UN CERF or ARTF. This includesthe majority of hospitals designated for COVID-19 care.
As part of the efforts to sustain health facilities previously under the Sehatmandi project, WHO is supporting 1209 health facilities in 17 provinces and covering the salaries of 14 000 health workers --which have already been disbursed for the month of November 2021. Payments for December are in process. Winterization supplies have also been provided to these health facilities.
The implementation of the fourth national polio immunization campaign started on 13 December. The campaign was synchronized with Pakistan to improve cross-border polio eradication efforts. WHO and UNICEF are jointly supporting the delivery of this campaign.
In response to the measles outbreak, WHO is supporting a measles vaccination campaign targeting 1.4 million children aged 9-59 months. The campaign is currently underway in six provinces:Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Kandahar, Paktika and Balkh.