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WHO scales up health response after Afghanistan earthquake [EN/AR]

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Cairo/Kabul, 26 June 2022 — Hours after the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan on 22 June that killed more than 800 people, injured 1400 more, and destroyed thousands of homes, WHO sent mobile health teams and ambulances, trauma kits and surgical supplies, medical equipment and other emergency supplies to treat the injured and replenish health supplies for hospitals in the affected provinces of Paktika, Khost and Paktia.

“Every life lost in this latest disaster facing the people of Afghanistan is one life too many. Every life lost represents someone's mother, father, child, friend or neighbour. Our response, and that of all health partners on the ground, is to treat the injured, save lives, and minimize the risk of death and disease in the aftermath of this tragedy. We thank all partners for their concerted efforts and solidarity to help those affected,” said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

On site, 8 ambulances and 20 mobile health teams provided by WHO helped transport victims and bodies from affected areas to the nearest hospitals. A neurosurgeon, doctors, nurses and a trauma management officer were deployed to support hospitals caring for the injured and implementation of mass casualty management plans in the facilities.

WHO is also deploying mental health and psychosocial support experts to provide emergency counselling to families affected by the earthquake.

A shipment of almost 10 tonnes of medicines and medical supplies was transported from Kabul to affected provinces, enough for 5400 surgeries and medical treatment for 36 000 people for the next 3 months.

An additional shipment of health supplies is due to arrive in country from WHO’s logistics hub in Dubai in the coming days.

WHO is increasing surveillance of infectious diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea, measles, and COVID-19 by deploying disease surveillance and control officers, and distributing medicines and supplies to health facilities in anticipation of an increase in cases.

Afghanistan is one of the 2 remaining polio-endemic countries in the world. In addition to monitoring for polio, polio staff are also contributing to relief efforts and supporting surveillance for other infectious diseases.

“The earthquake was yet another tragic reminder of the various risks facing the Afghan people and how critical that Afghanistan should not become another forgotten emergency by the global community,” said Dr Dapeng Luo, WHO Representative in Afghanistan.

As Health Cluster lead agency, WHO is also coordinating the work of the health partners to ensure gaps are identified and support is deployed as quickly as possible.

An interagency field mission, including experts from WHO, is on site to identify humanitarian needs, including health needs, and additional support will be provided by WHO and health partners as the situation evolves.