Afghanistan’s health sector has been steadily expanding coverage. As of 2018, 3,135 health facilities were functional providing for 87% of the population. Under the current system anyone can reach a health facility within 2 hours. But even if healthcare is available, it does not mean it is accessible. Poverty, distance, high cost, low awareness, insecurity, shortage of female health care providers, and corruption are some challenges that prevent ordinary citizens from getting care.
The vast magnitude of corruption and instability is one of the serious and widespread challenges before Afghanistan’s health sector. Instability has restricted people’s access to public health services. However, corruption has exceed instability and poses greater threat to health sector across the country. The high mortality rate of mothers, infants and children under the age of five, the high prevalence of infectious and non-infectious diseases, insufficient attention to the quality of hospital services, and lack of comprehensive and equitable health supplies in remote areas and villages are highly shocking. Afghanistan has the lowest standard health indicators in the region for many reasons: poor and inefficient management in health sector, corruption and lack of control and monitoring in the quality of health service, lack of independent oversight and community involvement in services tracking.
The import of low-quality medicines is the next challenge which has added to the dissatisfaction of healthcare personnel. The issue of low-quality medicines has been changed into a serious issue in the country as a large number of doctors and people believe that the medicines imported in Afghanistan lack standard quality and effectiveness. Lack of public trust in health sector in the country is one of the issues to be considered. In recent years, it is most likely that people lack trust in public sector.
To reduce drivers of corruption within the health sector, it is imperative to engage communities and service seekers to report inefficiencies in service delivery. HRRAC works with communities to ensure transparency, and hold health sector officials accountable. HRRAC works through its projects to increase public engagement to oversight and monitor health posts. In addition to that, specific steps must be taken to fill the gaps being utilized by service providers to their own benefits at local, and policy level. There is a need to work with local civil society to play the role of watchdog over health services. They need to be capacitated and organized and connected with mainstream media. Moreover, there is a need to link civil society with health shuras (councils) for mutual support and better coordination of efforts.
Majority of Afghans lack proper awareness regarding life threatening diseases. Smoking, HIV, meat eating, and air pollution causes severe diseases especially in major cities around the country. HRRAC increase the awareness of youth regarding these habits through print and social media.