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WHO-supported mobile clinics bring essential health services to internally displaced Afghans

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Kabul 13 June 2017 - Since December 2016, WHO has supported the operation of 17 mobile clinics in camps for over 41 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kabul, including over 16 000 women and over 8200 children under the age of 5. The mobile clinics, supported by generous donations from USAID, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), provide essential health services, including vaccinations, ante- and postnatal care, family planning services, nutrition counselling and health education. Between December 2016 and April 2017, the clinics handled over 31 000 out-patient visits and over 1200 ante-natal care visits, and the teams vaccinated more than 600 children against measles.

As conflict escalates in many parts of Afghanistan, the number of IDPs in need of assistance soars. Since the beginning of the year, over 103 000 Afghans fled their homes due to conflict while last year conflict displaced over 665 000 Afghans.

Through this photo essay, see how WHO and partners are supporting health services for internally displaced Afghans living in Kabul.

Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo Children stand in front of the WHO-supported mobile clinic at the Nasaji Bagrami camp for internally displaced persons in Kabul. The Nasaji Bagrami camp is home to over 700 families – almost 1000 children under 5 – most of whom have fled ongoing violence and conflict in their provinces. Around 60% of the 103 000 Afghans displaced due to conflict in 2017 are children.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo 30-year-old Halima from Baghlan province gets a post-pregnancy health check-up at the clinic in the Nasaji Bagrami IDP camp. She has been living in the camp for 7 years. Women in the camps rely on the health services provided by the mobile clinics as the nearest government-run hospitals are often far away and not accessible due to cultural and security reasons.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo Kawkaba has been a midwife for 21 years and has spent the past 5 years providing essential health services to women at a WHO-supported mobile clinic operated by SHRDO NGO at the Pul-e-Company camp for IDPs in Kabul. “I assist with around 3 deliveries every month in women’s homes in the camp. If there is no midwife in the camp, we give clean delivery kits to families and teach them how to use them so they can have a safer birth at home,” she says.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo Abdurrahman is only one day old and he is receiving the oral polio vaccine (OPV) at the Charahi Qambar IDP camp’s mobile clinic. These clinics provide children with life-saving vaccinations against serious diseases such as polio and measles and also provide tetanus vaccines for women.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo Five-year-old Farzana’s mother brought her to the clinic for a health check-up at the Nasaji Bagrami IDP camp. Farzana’s family was forced to return from Pakistan 6 months ago after having lived there for 20 years. Most common and serious problems for children living in the camps are respiratory infections and pneumonia in the winter, and acute watery diarrhoea in the hot summer months.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo Midwife Khadija displays the content of a clean delivery kit, a small pack that contains a bar of soap, plastic sheet, a razor blade and a piece of clean string. Many women in the camps give birth at home in basic conditions and midwives from the mobile clinics often assist with these deliveries. However, if there is no midwife in the camp, midwives give families clean delivery kits and teach them how to use them so they can have a safer birth at home. WHO has distributed 200 of these kits to Kabul mobile clinics in the past 4 months.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo The mobile clinics are often busy with people queueing for check-ups, vaccines and prescription medicines. Over 40 000 people living in the camps rely on the WHO-supported mobile clinics for basic health services. “We get good quality medicines and health services here for free and cannot afford to go outside for treatment. This clinic is very important for all of us here,” said Khairunesa, one of the residents at the Pul-e-Company camp, pictured in the middle wearing a black headscarf. She fled the conflict in Kunduz and has lived in the camp for 7 months.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo Dr Saleh Ahmad checks 7-year-old Nasima’s teeth at a mobile clinic at the Pul-e-Company IDP camp. Nasima’s family fled the conflict in Kunduz a year ago and they have been living in the camp since then. “This is a very busy clinic, I see on average 100 patients a day,” Dr Saleh says. “The main health problems are respiratory infections, diarrhoea, eye infections. People here also suffer a lot from mental health issues and anxiety. These cases we sometimes refer outside to bigger government hospitals that have the capacity to provide treatment, but it is not always easy for IDPs to access services there.”
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo Zeeba administers a tetanus vaccine to Tahera at the Pul-e-Company mobile clinic in a camp for internally displaced persons. Tahera also brought her 18-month-old son, Ameer, to the clinic to get his essential vaccines. “Some of the camp residents refused vaccinations before. But now, after we have provided them with a lot of health education and information, they all accept vaccines and bring their children here to be vaccinated regularly. They all have vaccination cards,” Zeeba says.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo This boy received medicines to treat his respiratory infection at the Pul-e-Company IDP camp’s mobile clinic in Kabul. All mobile clinic teams include two midwives, one doctor, one vaccinator and a pharmacist. The Pul-e-Company camp is home to around 6000 Afghans who all rely on the clinic for basic health services as the nearest government-run health facilities are far away and families, many living on a dollar a day, cannot afford to pay transport costs.
Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo Children fetch water from a pump near the mobile clinic in the Nasaji Bagrami IDP camp. Most camps do not have electricity, running water or proper sanitation facilities. WHO is grateful for the support of USAID, ECHO and CHF that enabled the provision of essential health services for tens of thousands of Afghans in these camps for the past months. All 17 mobile clinics were closed in May 2017. With the support of WHO, the Ministry of Public Health is currently looking into alternative ways of supporting these much-needed essential health services for IDPs living in the camps.

Credit: WHO Afghanistan/S.Ramo

Children stand in front of the WHO-supported mobile clinic at the Nasaji Bagrami camp for internally displaced persons in Kabul. The Nasaji Bagrami camp is home to over 700 families – almost 1000 children under 5 – most of whom have fled ongoing violence and conflict in their provinces. Around 60% of the 103 000 Afghans displaced due to conflict in 2017 are children.


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