Afghanistan: Enabling Health Workers to fight COVID-19 safely and securely

The scale, resilience and rapid transmission of COVID-19 has caught the world by surprise, leaving nations, healthcare workers and the general population scrambling to obtain access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) overnight. To ensure that the most vulnerable of communities and health workers on the frontline are well-protected and guarded from the virus, Community World Service Asia (CWSA) distributed PPE kits to provincial hospitals in Laghman province of Afghanistan. This intervention is supported by the ACT Alliance’s Rapid Relief Fund (RRF) in response to humanitarian crises.

Laghman’s provincial health directorate facilitated with the smooth implementation of the project activities. A hundred-and-fifty PPE kits were distributed to health workers and hospitals that are engaged in COVID-19 screening[1]. Each kit includes a head cover, a heavy-duty apron, surgical scrubs (trousers and shorts), a patient coversheet, disposable gown, gloves, facemask, face shield, goggles, safety shoes and hand sanitizers. These kits will help provide front-line aid workers with a safe environment for monitoring, diagnosing and treating COVID-19 cases.

The distribution took place on June 20th in the presence of Laghman’s Provincial Health Director, Director of Economy, Governor Representative, Hospital Director, CWSA’s project team and health workers from the provincial hospital. “These kits are vital to protect frontline health worker from the virus when they are on duty. I urge the health workers to use these kits responsibly to avoid the spread of the coronavirus and help overcome this pandemic with limited number of lives lost,” remarked Dr. Samad Ali, Public Health Director.

Discussing the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the global economy, Shafiqullah Shafaq, the Economy Director, shared, “This pandemic has impacted not only human lives, but has also weakened many countries’ economies, contributing to employment losses, industry declines, and reducing income production for both households and companies. Many countries’ GDP has been hit hard like Afghanistan. This form of assistance that humanitarian organisations offer plays a significant role in working together to overcome this pandemic and bring back normal life.”

“There is a desperate need for PPE kits for health workers at several hospitals in Afghanistan. Immediate provision of such safety kits to heath staff will enable them to respond quickly to COVID-19 positive cases. We intend to conduct an internal training to educate personnel on the correct usage of such packages and to prevent their misuse,” Director of the Provincial Hospital further added.

[1] ‘Emergency Response and provision of Personal Protective Equipment Project’, implemented by Community World Service Asia and funded by ACT Alliance in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar and Laghman Province.