Childhood pneumonia cases increase in Kabul as winter approaches

Taliban militiamen at Salang pass – Oliver Weiken/dpa

Doctors in the Afghan capital, Kabul, have warned of an increase in pneumonia cases, particularly among children, as winter approaches the city.

According to the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital team, the number of sick children has increased compared to last year. More than 30 minors, they estimate, arrive at the emergency room every day.

«The number of patients visiting our hospital is different every day, but 30, 40 or 50 people end up hospitalized here every day,» according to Dr. Saifullah Abasin.

The doctor has indicated that 20 to 30 percent of these patients arrive «in critical condition» due to the long and arduous journey from the remote areas where they live.

The Taliban Health Ministry has acknowledged the crisis, caused by a combination of low temperatures, poor hygiene and environmental pollution. «We are trying to reduce the number of deaths among patients with respiratory diseases through proper treatment,» spokesman Sharafat Zaman Amarkhail told Tolo News.

According to ministry estimates, nearly one million cases of pneumonia have been reported since January this year, mostly children.

Another population extremely vulnerable to pneumonia is the community of HIV patients, lacking beds in the country’s hospitals, according to the deputy director of the Ministry of Health, Habibullah Ajunzada.

The Ministry has identified some 3,200 cases of HIV in Afghanistan, of which 75 percent are men and 25 percent women, he explained, in statements also made to Tolo News.