Earthquake in Afghanistan: ‘Swimming’ health consequences

Temperatures have already started to drop into the single digits.

With about two-thirds of the affected areas assessed, more than 21,500 homes have been confirmed destroyed and another 17,000 seriously damaged, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Over 154,000 people have been affected.

Critical psychosocial support

That number includes about 7,500 pregnant women, many of whom lost family members.

The death of loved ones has taken a devastating toll, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said.

The agency has deployed psychosocial counselors to help them cope with an overwhelming loss.

“They need someone to listen to them and help them cope with their trauma,” said counselor Faiza Zarie, adding that the availability of psychosocial support is critical.

Women also face other challenges – increased risk of preventable maternal death, gender-based violence and hunger.

UNFPA works to address reproductive health needs. It issued a funding appeal of $11.6 million to continue to provide life-saving sexual and reproductive health supplies and services.

Health facilities, workers affected

Access to medical care has also been severely affected, with at least 40 facilities reported damaged, a region already largely deprived of essential health services before the disaster.

World Health Organization (WHO) warns that services to around 580,000 people have been severely disrupted.

“Health workers are also affected by the disaster – either from the loss of family members or from the fear of collapsing health facilities, making it even more difficult for them to provide the health care their communities need,” Alaa AbouZeid, WHO team leader in emergencies in Afghanistan, told reporters in Geneva from Kabul.

“The health implications are staggering,” she added

The UN agency has been one of the first responders on the ground, supporting hospitals with medicine and supplies and organizing mobile health and nutrition teams.

Maintaining health services will require additional resources, and so have WHO and partners launched a $7.9 million appeal to provide support for the next six months.

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