Babies share incubator as Kabul hospitals struggle

In Summary

In Kabul's main children's hospital, the crumbling of Afghanistan's health system can be seen in the eyes of the exhausted staff who have remained in the city, ekeing out their fast-diminishing stocks of medicines. Olivia Chan reports.

In Kabul's main children's hospital, the crumbling of Afghanistan's health system can be seen in the eyes of the exhausted staff who have remained in the city, ekeing out their fast-diminishing stocks of medicines. Olivia Chan reports.

 

This is the main children's hospital in Kabul, where medical staff are squeezing three babies into a single incubator because they don't have enough supplies.

Nurses who once took care of three or four babies each are now having to look after 20 or more to make up for the absence of staff who fled the country when the Taliban seized power in August.

The medical team has not been paid in months and often struggle even to pay their car fare to work.

Marwa is the nursing supervisor in the nursery ward:

"Our request for the current government is to increase the number of our staff because every nurse is usually responsible for about four children and now, due to a lack of staff, every nurse is taking care of 24 children. The workload is too much."

Although the number of patients have fallen since the fighting ended, Afghanistan's hospitals are grappling with the fallout of its rapidly spreading economic crisis.

U.N. agencies say as much as 95% of the population does not regularly have enough to eat.

Meanwhile, the lack of support from a $600 million project administered by the World Bank has left thousands of facilities unable to buy supplies and pay salaries.

Dr. Mohammad Letif Behef, the assistant director of Indira Gandhi Children's hospital said officials from UNICEF have given some help but more is needed to fill the shortage of medicines.

"We are facing problems with our staff payments and the other problems we are facing in this hospital is the shortage of medicine and a shortage of food for malnourished children."

For mothers like Arzoo, they just want to save their children.

She has already lost one of her five children to malnourishment-related illness and is unwilling to lose another.