Recent political changes in the country and developments in private and public sectors have impacted women’s access to healthcare services. Citizens express concern over inadequate healthcare services in Afghanistan, leading to increased mortality rates among women and children. They demand that the de facto authorities address the situation of women and children.
The lack or absence of hospitals and health centers in provinces, economic challenges, restrictions on women’s travel by the Taliban, and increased depression among women have reduced women’s access to healthcare services.
Moreover, insufficient healthcare facilities in hospitals, a shortage of female specialist doctors, and the dominance of traditional societal norms pose additional challenges, further limiting women’s access to healthcare services.
Hamida, a 28-year-old woman, stated: “In many places, there are no hospitals, no doctors, and patients die on the way to distant clinics. Even in government hospitals, all facilities are not available. Free medication is not provided to the people, and many clinics lack qualified staff, preventing women from accessing healthcare.”
Another woman, Hafiza, 36, expressed concerns: “In Afghanistan, maternal and infant mortality is high because husbands do not allow their wives to give birth in hospitals, considering it shameful.”
Some women living in remote areas are deprived of access to healthcare services due to the distance from health centers.
Andisha Karimi, a doctor in Kabul, discusses the challenges of women’s access to healthcare: “In remote areas of our country, women have limited access to healthcare due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban government. This leads to a high influx of patients from various provinces to central facilities. These women recount that we are not allowed to access healthcare facilities without a male guardian, even in critical conditions.”
Karimi notes that in recent years, the mortality rate of women and children has increased because families do not transfer them to hospitals and central healthcare centers. Pregnant women, in particular, face difficulties accessing timely healthcare due to various obstacles.
She says, “A woman lost her life due to severe bleeding at a health center because there was no female doctor available. Annually, maternal and infant mortality increases due to the lack of healthcare centers, doctors, midwives, and specialized care for children and mothers.”
According to her, out of every hundred thousand mothers, 620 lose their lives, the highest maternal mortality rate in Asia.
The World Health Organization also reports that political changes in the country have led to the collapse of the healthcare sector, severely restricting women’s access to healthcare services.
The insufficient health budget in Afghanistan has led to the closure of 325 health centers by July 2023, affecting 5.2 million people, especially women.
It is worth mentioning that the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan-ruled Taliban has suspended the specialization exams for female doctors, further hindering the increase in young healthcare professionals.