Afghanistan received 500 oxygen generators from the World Health Organization (WHO) Monday to address the critical needs of patients as the war-ravaged country battles a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministry of Public Health said this much-needed aid would help support the country’s fragile health system in combating the surging number of cases in public sector hospitals.
Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Health Minister Wazhma Salimi thanked the WHO and vowed to fairly distribute the devices in some of the vulnerable provinces grappling with COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Meanwhile, Wajmeh Salemi, deputy minister of finance and administration at the Ministry of Public Health, while appreciating the assistance and cooperation of the WHO with Afghanistan, promised that these devices would be distributed fairly to the health centers that need them.
According to the WHO, the shipment -- worth US$800,000 -- arrived from the organization’s logistics hub in Dubai and was handed over to the Ministry of Public Health for distribution among COVID-19 hospitals across the country.
“The WHO is sparing no effort to respond to the pandemic on all fronts. One of the most effective and basic ways to treat COVID-19 patients is through providing oxygen. We are working closely with the Ministry of Public Health to put in place a distribution plan that maximizes the use and benefit of the concentrators,” said Dr. Dapeng Luo, WHO representative in Afghanistan.
It noted that the Delta variant of the virus, which is associated with increased transmission of COVID-19, has been detected in Afghanistan and was accompanied by a surge of cases while the escalating conflict continues to overwhelm the health system further with complex trauma cases.
The WHO also noted that as COVID-19 continued to ravage health systems across the globe, Afghanistan has been hit hardest by the pandemic, which added yet another layer of complexity to an already fragile health system.
Schools and other education institutions reopened in Afghanistan on Sunday after months of closure due to surging coronavirus infections and deaths.
Grappling with shortages of vaccines and oxygen, in February, Afghanistan began the rollout of an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine following the WHO’s emergency use approval.
Afghanistan on Monday recorded 35 more deaths and 594 new infections to take the total death toll from the pandemic to 6,515 and total infections to 145,008.
According to UN estimates, vaccination rates remain extremely low in Afghanistan, with less than 4% of the population vaccinated, and the virus continues to deeply affect the lives of the most vulnerable children and families across the country as they face the compounded impact of the pandemic, conflict and drought.