Neglected disease, lasting stigma – Leishmaniasis continues to affect the lives of tens of thousands of Afghans

leish1Nasir gets an injection to treat his leishmaniasis lesions at a WHO-supported treatment centre in Kabul. Photo: WHO/S.RamoKabul 22 January 2017 - Around 20 million Afghans in 21 provinces are at risk of cutaneous leishmaniasis, a tropical disease transmitted by the bite of a sandfly. The disease may also lead to open lesions and disfigurement, usually on the exposed areas of the body, mainly on the face and hands, and is associated with severe social stigma, especially for women and girls.

In 2015, more than 25 000 new cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis were reported in Afghanistan, although the actual number is likely to be much higher. Kabul suffers from the highest cutaneous leishmaniasis burden in the world, with around 10 000 new cases reported every year.

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Tahera works towards a polio-free Afghanistan


“I am proud of my job and my family is proud of me too”

Kabul 16 January 2017 - Tahera is one of the over 65,000 dedicated frontline workers who are working tirelessly to eradicate polio from Afghanistan. For the past year, she has been working as a volunteer polio vaccinator in Bamyan province, going from house to house in her community to vaccinate children during immunization campaigns.

“Polio is a very dangerous disease and people often underestimate how important and effective the vaccine is in preventing the irreversible consequences of the disease,” Tahera says. “I joined the polio programme because I want to raise awareness about the polio vaccine and its benefits to children in my community.”

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  • Neglected disease, lasting stigma – Leishmaniasis continues to affect the lives of tens of thousands of Afghans
    Neglected disease, lasting stigma – Leishmaniasis continues to affect the lives of tens of thousands of Afghans
  • Tahera works towards a polio-free Afghanistan
    Tahera works towards a polio-free Afghanistan


Afghanistan observes World AIDS Day 2016: Stigma and low awareness hamper access to diagnosis and treatment

Kabul 7 December 2016 – The Ministry of Public Health, WHO and partners, together with civil society and people living with HIV/AIDS, observed World AIDS Day 2016 at an event...

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Workshop on family planning and emergency contraception aims to increase service quality and address needs of sexual assault survivors

10 November 2016 – WHO supported a training workshop on emergency contraception and family planning programming in Kabul on 31 October–1 November 2016 in order to strengthen the Ministry of...

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In focus

Emergency humanitarian update, December 2016

Highlights, December 2016 WHO continued to support health services and trauma care in conflict-affected areas during December. 592 324 people have been internally displaced due to conflict in 2016, the highest on...

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A million Afghans on the move: vaccinating every child

Over 600 000 Afghan refugees and undocumented returnees have returned from Pakistan during 2016. October saw the highest number of returns this year with 170 000 people crossing the border from...

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Key health-related statistics

Population (000s) 28 500
Health expenditure (% of general government expenditure) 7.1
Adult (15+) literacy rate (%) 31
Life expectancy at birth (2010) 61.0

Source: Country statistical profiles (2015)

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Afghanistan country health profile

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