Slowing rate of Covid-19 vaccination in Afghanistan concerns WHO
- WHO’s statement comes days after reports emerged of Islamist militant group Taliban banning Covid-19 vaccines in east Afghanistan's Paktia
The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed its concerns over the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) situation in Afghanistan and the pace of vaccination in the aftermath of Taliban taking over the country. "As the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate rapidly, WHO is extremely concerned over the unfolding safety and humanitarian needs in the country, including risk of disease outbreaks and rise in Covid-19 transmission," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said during a United Nations (UN) briefing on Tuesday.
Reuters reported that Jasarevic also told a UN briefing that the chaos at Kabul international airport where thousands of people gathered, trying to flee the Taliban regime, was slowing deliveries of medical supplies.
WHO’s statement comes days after reports emerged of Islamist militant group Taliban banning Covid-19 vaccines in east Afghanistan's Paktia. Afghanistan-based radio and television platform Shamshad News had reported on August 13 that a notice in this regard had been put up by the Taliban at the Paktia Regional Hospital.
The UN body’s mobile health teams have been on hold in capital city Kabul for the past 24 hours as the city is besieged with chaos and disruptions. WHO, much like other UN agencies, have pledged to stay put in Afghanistan saying they remain committed to their mission. WHO has recorded 152,142 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 7,025 deaths in Afghanistan between January 3 and August 16. The country has administered a total of 1,809,517 vaccine doses till August 10.
UN has been urging the Taliban to keep its word of granting “amnesty” to former government employees and allow women and girls access to basic human rights. Some agencies of the UN, such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have been striking a more positive tone and voicing their optimism.
“We have ongoing discussions, we are quite optimistic based on those discussions. We have not a single issue with the Taliban in those field offices," Mustapha Ben Messaoud, UNICEF's chief of field operations in Afghanistan, told a UN briefing in Geneva.