The first case to test positive for COVID-19 in Afghanistan was reported on February 24 in western Herat province. The patient was a newly deported Afghan who had arrived from Iran. Since February 24, the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 has increased. Initially, one of the key reasons for the high rate of infection was that Tehran continued to deport Afghan asylum-seekers at an accelerated rate, sending them to Afghanistan through Herat province as the crisis began.   

According to the Ministry of Health in Afghanistan, as of July 5, 2020, there were (32672) positive Covid-19 cases reported, (826) have died during the pandemic, and (19164) have recovered. The number of confirmed cases in the country is small compared with other countries in the region, and indeed many developed countries. However, it’s feared the number of Covid-19 cases could be much larger than what is seen reported; the virus has been spreading silently through Afghanistan’s provinces and many people are not able to get tested due to the lack of health service providers or hospitals that can test for COVID-19.

Additionally, as a country enduring civil war, corruption, a conflict lasting decades, and discrimination, it now has a new challenge in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. To control the spread of Covid-19 is full of challenges and difficulties for the people; in a country that’s experienced decades of violence and war, people face extreme poverty and have no choice but to go out and struggle to earn a living

To be fair, there are many challenges for the government of Afghanistan to manage and control the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s a global crisis. The latest evidence shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a huge challenge for the world, even in developed countries including European nations and the United States of America that have advance and high-quality health care systems. For Afghanistan, after suffering through war, terror, and civil conflict, there are now high rates of poverty and the people face a tough time. Meanwhile, Afghanistan peace talks with the Taliban are on hold. “We work in a country fragmented by conflict” Kabul-based Hierden says.

The government of Afghanistan has announced moves to control and decrease the number of infected people; the primary challenge for the government and the people is movement control. No movement means no food for Afghan citizens due to high levels of poverty and a lack of stable income.  It is difficult to predict when the poverty will be alleviated and the war settled so that the country can recover – the Taliban is still regularly attacking some parts of Afghanistan. With this, the movement control order policy is a huge challenge for the Afghanistan government and its citizens, 50% of whom live under the poverty line. The government has no fiscal policy to provide regular food for those who need it.  

The second and most challenging issue for the people of Afghanistan is an economic policy. The challenge for government policymakers as been making targeted policies that address problems that are expected to be short term without creating any specific economic policy that would outlast the impact of Covid-19 itself. Afghanistan’s economy depends on international donors; it is a fact that the government of Afghanistan has been overwhelmed by the fast-paced nature of the global health crisis. It’s now morphing into a global economic crisis that is affecting every nation. As the economic effects of the pandemic grow in Afghanistan day by day, and the number of infected people increases, the Afghanistan government becomes more responsible to create policies that address the immediate economic effects, at the expense of short- and longer-term considerations.

The government of Afghanistan had felt constrained in their ability to respond to the health crisis as a result of limited flexibility in monetary and financial support. The country doesn’t have high-quality economic policies and standards of developed nations, so is struggling to support people who have lost their jobs and are not able to provide food for their families.

The third but not the least challenge for the people of Afghanistan is the country not having a functioning health system. Although the health care system in Afghanistan has improved over the past 19 years, many people still asked “is there a possibility that the government of Afghanistan can provide a prompt and functional response to the CoVID-19 crisis?” As it stands, the country is now in a situation of rapidly rising cases of Covid-19 each day.

Afghanistan is a country in which the majority of the population lives in rural areas, according to WHO reports. There is a single, national isolation center with a capacity of 100 beds, whilst at the same time, and regions and provinces have a total capacity of 991 beds in health care centers. There are only a few public health laboratories in Afghanistan like Kabul, Herat, and few other provinces that can currently do diagnostic testing for Covid-19 with a maximum capacity of 50 tests per day in each location. The lack of laboratories in rural areas to do diagnostic tests for the virus has created considerable delays and problems in treating and isolating patients in several parts of the country

To conclude, Afghanistan has had years of war, conflict, and discrimination and now the Covid-19 crisis has added extra challenges for the people and government of this country.  

Poverty is one of the most critical issues because the majority of the population survives under the poverty line. Due to this issue, people have no other choice but to go out and struggle to earn enough to survive another day. The second challenge is that of economic policy, there needs to policy applied in this current situation to aid recovery, at least in short term, but there is no such a policy because Afghanistan’s economy is dependent on international donors. This means that the Afghan government doesn’t have the ability to take immediate and effective decisions. Lastly, the healthcare systems in Afghanistan are damages and don’t have the capacity to respond to all people in need in normal time, during this Covid-19 crisis, this issue is amplified.

DISCLAIMER – The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Khaama Press News Agency. We welcome opinions and submissions to Khaama Press Opinions– Please email them to [email protected].


  • Eshaq Barna

    Eshaq Barna, student of Masters Program in business management at the faculty of Business and Management at the University of Technology Mara Malaysia. He holds a Bachelor's degree in BBA faculty of economics and management science, International Islamic University Malaysia.