Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Global Fund allocates $4.7 million for Afghan returnees’ health services

Immigration News

Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is stepping up its efforts to support the healthcare needs of Afghan returnees from Pakistan, with an allocation exceeding $4.7 million in emergency funding. This financial injection aims to tackle the health challenges posed by HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria among the anticipated 1.3 million returnees in the coming year.

This emergency funding complements an ongoing $66 million grant initiated on January 1, 2024, spearheaded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Over three years, this grant seeks to bolster healthcare services in Afghanistan, particularly in regions bordering Pakistan, where the influx of returnees is concentrated.

Annelise Hirschmann, the Head of Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean Department at the Global Fund, highlights the significance of the returnee population, amounting to over 3% of Afghanistan’s total populace. This demographic shift, especially in remote and underserved areas near the Pakistan border, presents a heightened epidemiological risk, necessitating robust interventions for HIV, TB, and malaria.

“The anticipated 1.3 million people represent over 3% of Afghanistan’s population. This increase, particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas bordering Pakistan, poses an epidemiological risk and necessitates reinforced HIV, TB, and malaria services, Hirschmann said.

The emergency funds earmarked by the Global Fund will be strategically allocated to address specific healthcare priorities. For malaria, this includes bolstering diagnostic services, distributing long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) in high-risk zones, and offering training programs to residents in low-risk provinces to mitigate the spread from neighbouring high-risk areas.

In the realm of tuberculosis, the focus is on establishing point-of-care facilities at border crossings equipped with testing infrastructure, expanding active case-finding initiatives, streamlining sample transportation, and facilitating treatment services. These measures aim to enhance TB detection and management among the returning population.

To combat AIDS, emergency funding will support voluntary testing at border entry points, provision of counselling services, and continuation of treatment for displaced individuals. These interventions are crucial for maintaining continuity of care and preventing the resurgence of HIV infections among vulnerable populations.

Stephen Rodriques, the UNDP Afghanistan Resident Representative, expresses confidence in the collaborative efforts between UNDP and the Global Fund to address the immediate health needs of returnees. With the additional financial support, they aim to minimize health risks and ensure the well-being of the returnee population, emphasizing the importance of continued collaboration in the face of ongoing challenges.

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