The group says Taliban abuses have put the Afghan health system at risk, leading to a sharp decline in foreign aid

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghanistan's public health system has been severely strained, along with a sharp drop in foreign aid, Human Rights Watch said Monday. Taliban abuses against women and girlsPutting millions of Afghans' right to healthcare at risk.

In a new report, the New York-based watchdog said this left "Afghanistan's population vulnerable to severe malnutrition and disease", among other impacts of inadequate medical care.

Taliban takes over Afghanistan in August 2021 Millions of people were pushed into poverty and starvation after foreign aid stopped almost overnight. Sanctions against Taliban rulers, a freeze on bank transfers and the freezing of billions of dollars in Afghanistan's currency reserves have cut off access to global institutions and external funds that supported the aid-dependent economy before the withdrawal of US and NATO forces. .

In 2023, the World Food Program warned that malnutrition rates in Afghanistan were at a record high and half the country was suffering from severe hunger throughout the year.

"Women and girls have been particularly hard hit by the health care crisis caused by Taliban abuses," the report said.

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HRW reports that Taliban restrictions on women's freedom of movement and employment have severely limited their access to health services, while restrictions on education have prevented nearly all training of future female health workers in the country. Has been blocked.

"The loss of foreign development assistance and the Taliban's rights violations have led to a catastrophic health crisis in Afghanistan that disproportionately harms women and girls," the report quoted Human Rights Watch's Afghanistan researcher Farishta Abbasi as saying. Used to be."

He added that "the cost of treatment and medication has put care out of reach for many Afghans."

HRW remotely interviewed 46 Afghan and foreign aid officials, health workers, and people seeking health care in 16 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces between February 2023 and January 2024. Fifteen of the interviewees, 12 women and three men, were Afghans who sought health care. The rights group also spoke to Afghan health care officials, 10 women and eight men.

A Taliban government spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the report.

While Afghans living in poverty have always faced difficulties obtaining health care due to cost, increasing numbers now struggle to pay for food and often the cost of medicines and transportation to access health services. Are unable to cover.

“Since the Taliban took power, the price of my medicines has almost doubled,” a 54-year-old man suffering from kidney infection told HRW. "It's very high for people who don't have jobs."

The report quoted an unnamed official at the charity Mercy Corps as telling HRW in September that "the humanitarian response in Afghanistan cannot keep pace with deteriorating conditions in the country."

The Taliban also imposed strict rules regarding women's head coverings or hijab and the presence of a male guardian, known as a mahram, which hindered women from traveling for work or receiving treatment, the report said. Is.

The report cited an unnamed doctor in the city of Samangan as saying he had been told by the Taliban "not to treat any female patient who is not accompanied by a mahram or who is not wearing full hijab."

“The unprecedented economic crisis in Afghanistan means millions of people are facing life-threatening conditions,” said Abbasi, the HRW researcher. “The situation demands more than humanitarian assistance; Sustained efforts are needed to prevent further economic decline and alleviate the enormous suffering of the Afghan population.

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