Elsewhere in the country, MSF staff continue to treat high numbers of patients for a range of health conditions. In May our teams assisted more than 3,600 births, admitted more than 900 severely malnourished children for care in our facilities, and provided outpatient nutrition treatment to more than 1,500 children, pregnant women, or women who had recently given birth.
The public healthcare system in Afghanistan has been dysfunctional, under-resourced, and under-staffed for years. People struggle to access basic or preventive health services, often resulting in health problems deteriorating before people seek care—requiring more advanced medical treatment. The health care system relies on donor funding to stay afloat, but this is not a long-term solution. Afghanistan urgently needs a health system that can meet people’s needs.
The ripple effects of pre-existing sanctions and the additional financial measures taken against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) after they took power in August 2021, are being felt nationwide. The economy has been crushed, leaving millions of people out of work and struggling to find employment. Food prices have soared across the country. People who are employed are now supporting more family members, and many people do not have enough to eat or are delaying seeking health care as they cannot afford it.
Lashkar Gah, Helmand province
The MSF-supported Boost hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, continues to be extremely busy in all departments. More than 26,000 patients came to the hospital in May and were triaged in the emergency room. This was the busiest month so far this year, and 40 percent more people than in April.
More than 3,600 patients were admitted for inpatient treatment in the hospital, the highest number of patients hospitalized in 2022. The inpatient therapeutic feeding center (ITFC) was the busiest department, and was frequently operating above capacity with an average bed occupancy rate of 180 percent. There were 588 severely and acutely malnourished children admitted to the department, more than three times the number admitted in April.
The high numbers are partly due to Ramadan, which lasted the month of April, but also due to food shortages combined with epidemics including an increased prevalence of acute watery diarrhea in the summer months. In addition, our team was sometimes unable to refer stable patients to organization as they were full. Measles—which has been prevalent this year—can also weaken patients’ immune systems, making them more susceptible to malnutrition.
Many children received care in Boost hospital, with 862 patients admitted to the general pediatric ward. In June, MSF expanded the pediatric intensive care unit from 18 beds to 30 beds. Our teams saw more than 500 measles cases in May, slightly fewer than in April, but much fewer than the 785 cases seen in March.
There were more than 2,000 deliveries supported in the maternity department, and 1,400 antenatal and 900 postnatal care consultations. The surgical department performed 800 major surgeries.