My Pocket Was Empty and I Was Not Treated at the Jinnah Hospital, Kabul

On August 24, I went to Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital in Dasht-e Barchi due to a foot problem. I arrived at the hospital at 11:30 before dinner. Several other patients were waiting to visit a doctor behind the door of the orthopedic ward. While I waited for a few minutes, three more patients came. Most patients were given blood tests, calcium tests, vitamin D test, so on and so forth. When it was my turn, the doctor asked about my disease. I explained that for several months now, when the wind blows on my left foot, I have a very unpleasant feeling that I am unable to describe accurately. It is neither pain nor burning, but it is a very unpleasant feeling. The doctor did not examine my leg at all, on a piece of paper, instead he wrote four tests. This includes calcium, vitamin D, and two others, and told me to go to the lab.

I went to the lab. Three ladies and two gentlemen were sitting together and telling stories. I put the sheet on the table and said that it was written by an orthopedic doctor. One lady looked at the sheet and said with a smile that they had no materials to test and that no tests had been performed in the laboratory for a long time. The lady said you have come to test your blood, we have not been paid for five months and now that the Taliban have come, it is not clear whether they will pay us or not.

I went back to the orthopedic examination ward and discussed the matter with my doctor. He said you have to do your experiments in a private laboratory. These tests, though, are expensive, especially the vitamin D test. Another hospital staff member advised me to go to Rayan Lab and say my name, they would give me a discount. I first went to a lab in front of Jinnah Hospital and asked about the cost of these tests. He said it would cost 2,700 Afghanis. Then I went to Rayan Lab and said that someone had introduced me, I expect a discount. He gave me a discount and conducted my experiments with 2200 Afghanis. He said, however, the result of the vitamin D test will take a while at least until six o’clock in the evening. I went back to the hospital to talk to the doctor. Unfortunately, the hospital guards newly hired by the Taliban said the hospital was closed after 12:00 noon and no doctors were working.

I came back home. At 6:30 pm, someone called me from the laboratory and said that the test results were ready. I said I would come tomorrow morning. The next day, at 8:00 in the morning, I went to the lab and got the result. It was 8:20 when I got to the hospital. There was no doctor in orthopedic – many patients were waiting. I sat next to the other patients. At 10:50, the orthopedic examination room opened and the examination began. The doctor first asked for the results of the experiments. When I entered the room, I saw that there was another doctor. I said yesterday there was someone else who advised me to do these tests and this is the result. He did not say anything, just saw the results and wrote a prescription. I asked which floor the pharmacy was on, and he said there was no medicine in the hospital, “you have to buy it from private pharmacies.” I bought my medicine from a pharmacy, which cost me 490 Afghanis.

At that time, I was wondering if there was an order in the hospitals due to the fall of the regime and the chaos caused by it. The doctors do not show up on time, they do not work until the end of the day, there is no test material in the laboratory and no medicine in the pharmacy. I thought this situation would change soon. Yesterday, when a friend of mine went to the government hospital, he complained of disorder and lack of proper care for patients. It seems that the situation of public hospitals has not improved and services are not provided in a timely and proper manner. Some well-off people are reluctant to go to public hospitals. However, some with limited financial resources are forced to stand in long queues at these hospitals and end up paying for their tests and the price of their medicine.

Since the health sector is directly with the health of the society, it is good that the Taliban Ministry of Public Health officials are serious and effective in providing laboratory materials, hospital medicines and health services. In order to provide health services in public hospitals, the Taliban Ministry of Public Health must provide timely medicine and other facilities, as well as the salaries and benefits of hospital staff. Delays in the payment of salaries to doctors and other hospital staffs motivate them to work and directly harm the physical and mental health of the community, especially the poor. Preventing chaos in hospitals, providing effective and timely health services, and ultimately ensuring community health, is the main task of the Ministry of Public Health, and if this sector is neglected, the lives of many citizens will be in danger. If this situation continues in the long run, we will face a sick community that can neither afford private hospitals nor receives effective services from public hospitals.