Absence of Female Specialists: The Health Sector is “Paralyzed” in Ghor
After the start of winter and the first snowfall, the roads between Ghor, Kabul, and Herat have been completely blocked. Additionally, the roads connecting the districts of Ghor are also becoming impassable due to the heavy snow. Meanwhile, citizens are also expressing their dissatisfaction with the lack of female doctors, saying that the health sector in Ghor has become paralyzed. They are warning that if the Taliban Ministry of Public Health does not take action, soon patients will die due to the lack of doctors and medications.
Ubaidullah, a resident of Kaftarkhan village in Tulak district, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of medicine and medical facilities in the area. He told Hasht–e–Sobh that in the past, patients were given medication immediately after being examined by doctors, but this year, the practice has been discontinued. He said, “Previously, when we visited clinics, the doctors would give us high–quality tablets, so most of us didn‘t need to go to a pharmacy. However, this year, doctors are only writing prescriptions that we have to take to a pharmacy to get the medicine. When we ask why the clinic doesn‘t provide the medicine, they tell us it hasn‘t arrived yet and they have run out of medications.”
Ghawsuddin, a resident of the Ghor neighborhood, confirmed that medical centers in the district are lacking medication. He attributed this to the heavy snowfall that has caused road blockages, leading to disruptions in the delivery of medicines. He also noted that the weather has become much colder than in previous years, resulting in an increase in diseases and health issues. “This year, they won‘t give any medicine to patients, not even paracetamol. They say they are waiting for the medicine to arrive, but none has arrived yet,” he said, trying to explain the situation.
The shortage of medicines and the lack of doctors, particularly gynecologists, are causing concern among citizens in Ghor. Complainants said that only two female doctors are available in the central hospital of Firuzkoh city. Residents also claim that the lack of a gynecologist has made women feel uncomfortable, as they are not receiving the necessary health services. The authorities in Ghor have confirmed that only two female specialists are available, but due to the high demand, they are unable to provide service to all patients.
Benafsha, who had traveled a long way to the Ghor hospital, said that her daughter had been in severe pain and discomfort due to pregnancy cramps for almost two days and needed immediate surgery, but due to the lack of specialists and professional facilities, she lost her baby. “My daughter was in pain for two days, so we had to take her to the hospital. When we got here, the doctors told us that the baby had died and my daughter needed surgery. We agreed. Three doctors, two women and one man, took care of the surgery,” Benafsha added.
A representative from the Ministry of Public Health in Ghor informed the Hasht–e–Sobh newspaper that Ghor has 81 medical centers, all of which are facing a shortage of medical supplies. He stated that the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA) is responsible for providing the necessary medication, but they have yet to do so despite the fact that they were supposed to deliver it before the heavy snowfall. Currently, he said, the roads are blocked and the delivery cannot take place.
Activists have strongly criticized the lack of medication and female specialists in Ghor, warning that if the issue is not addressed, there will soon be a large number of casualties. Gulchehra, a civil activist, explained that without female specialists, women are unable to access health services fully, and must instead visit male doctors. She also noted that with only two doctors, they are unable to provide adequate services to patients, and pregnant women are uncomfortable with the idea of being treated by male specialists, even in cases where a natural birth is not possible. Gulchehra concluded that all health centers are facing a shortage of medication, and if not addressed, it will lead to a large number of casualties.
All in all, as the people of Ghor keep voicing their dissatisfaction with the inadequate medical care in the city, Taliban officials recently declared that from now on, female patients are not allowed to see male doctors.