Afghanistan + 1 more

Treating TB, One Meal at a Time

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USAID has been the most generous donor to the United Nations World Food Programme in Afghanistan

2 January 2012 | Hirat, Afghanistan

Since 2010, USAID has contributed nearly 100,000 metric tons to World Food Programme’s operations, providing vital food assistance to vulnerable Afghans across the country.

At the Hirat Regional Hospital, Nafas Gul is sitting patiently outside of the TB treatment center, awaiting her dose of medication. The mother of five is tired, but says she feels much better now after having received treatment for six months. “Before, I couldn’t even walk,” she says.

After ingesting her tablet in front of the doctor, Nafas joins the crowd of 20 other men and women who have lined up to receive their monthly food ration from the United Nations World Food Programme: 50 kg of wheat, 8 kg of split peas, 3.7 liters of fortified vegetable oil, and half a kilogram of iodized salt.

“My husband cannot work, and people won’t give him a job because he’s a drug addict,” she explains. “When I receive food, it’s a big resource for us because we have no regular income.” Her eldest two sons who are 15 and 13 years old, have to work as daily laborers to support the family.

The World Food Programme provides monthly food assistance to TB patients like Nafas who are undergoing treatment. Nutritional support is essential in recovery for TB patients. The food also provides additional incentive for poor patients to endure the eight-month treatment. Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of TB infection in the world. Nearly 8,000 Afghans die from the disease every year.

USAID's assistance has been the backbone of World Food Programme operations in Afghanistan, allowing it to provide more than 100,000 metric tons of food in the past two years. In a country like Afghanistan, where many families often cannot afford to buy the necessary food, this support is crucial to ensure food security.