Following the withdrawal of United States military forces and the government takeover by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA, also known as the Taliban), international support for medical and humanitarian needs in the country declined sharply. After 20 years of war, Afghans now face extreme hardships due to economic collapse and other factors. The ripple effects of preexisting sanctions and additional financial measures imposed against the IEA after they took power last August are being felt by ordinary people nationwide. Food prices have soared, and many people do not have enough to eat. A prolonged drought is also contributing to food insecurity and malnutrition. Meanwhile, individuals often delay seeking health care because they cannot afford it.
Against this backdrop, MSF teams have continued to provide free and much-needed health care across the country: In August 2021, the first patients were admitted to a newly constructed trauma center in Kunduz; in September 2021, Khost maternity hospital expanded admission criteria to accept all pregnant women; in February 2022, our teams began providing care to severely malnourished children in Kabul; and in June, we swiftly mobilized to send a medical team to the areas worst affected by an earthquake that shook Khost and Paktika provinces.
MSF now works in six provinces across Afghanistan—Helmand, Herat, Kandahar, Khost, Kunduz, and Kabul—providing a range of health services, including pediatric, trauma, maternal, mental health, and drug-resistant tuberculosis care. Here’s a look back how we adapted to ensure continued medical care in all our programs, even when other international aid organizations left the country.