After the change of power in August this year, the health system in Afghanistan is on the verge of collapse. In September, only 17 percent of the 2,300 health facilities were still operating. This is particularly life-threatening for children.

Nothing has been the same, ever since the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan 100 days ago. After the regime change, international funding that financed the majority of public health care facilities in Afghanistan has been cut, leading to a shortage of health care workers, scaled-down services and a diminishing supply of medicine. This puts many women and children’s lives in danger.

The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is severe: the health system is collapsing and many people are suffering from hunger. As in any crisis, children are particularly vulnerable and need urgent care.

Even before the political turmoil, Afghanistan was one of the most dangerous places to give birth or be a child. The health crisis sweeping the country means many women are being forced to give birth at home, with little to no medical supervision. This not only puts women’s lives in grave danger but also their children’s.

Thomas Howells Save the Children’s acting Country Director Afghanistan

Children and mothers particularly at risk

There is less and less medicine and medical treatment available – but the number of births in Afghanistan remains unchanged. In addition, many people don’t have enough food to eat and only few opportunities to obtain cash. As a result, babies born in the past 100 days are very weak. A fact reported by our mobile health teams who are active on the ground. Newborns and nursing mothers in Afghanistan also face a heightened risk of succumbing to malnutrition this winter as the country battles one of the world’s largest food crises.

Support through mobile health teams

Save the Children’s mobile health teams are providing primary, newborn and maternal health services, as well as mental health and nutrition activities to the most vulnerable children and pregnant and nursing mothers. The organisation is also providing counselling on recommended feeding practices to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and providing children diverse and nutritious diets. In total, we have already been able to reach more than 13,900 people, including over 5,400 children, since September. This help is needed now more than ever to ensure the survival of many children.

No child or mother should die from preventable causes. It is imperative all children and mothers have access to quality health care at local and regional hospitals.