In Afghan Hospital, unpaid doctors and rigid Taliban clash

Kabul, The Taliban-appointed supervisor of a small district hospital outside the Afghan capital has big plans for the place — to the dismay of the doctors who work there.

Mohammed Javid Ahmadi, 22, was asked by his superiors, fresh off the fields of battle from a war that has spanned most of his life, what kind of jobs he could do. On offer were positions in an array of ministries and institutions now under the Taliban’s power following their August takeover and the collapse of the former government.

It was Ahmadi’s dream to be a doctor; poverty had kept him from gaining admission to medical school, he said. He chose the health sector. Soon after, the Mirbacha Kot district hospital just outside of Kabul became his responsibility, The Associated Press (AP) reports.

“If someone with more experience can take this position it would be better, but unfortunately if someone (like that) gets this position, after some time you’ll see that he might be a thief or corrupt,” he said, highlighting a perennial problem of the former government.

It’s a job Ahmadi takes very seriously, but he and the other health workers in the 20-bed hospital rarely see eye-to-eye. Doctors are demanding overdue salary payments amid critical shortages of medicine, fuel and food. Ahmadi’s first priority is to build a mosque inside the hospital quarters, segregate staff by gender and encourage them to pray. The rest will follow according to the will of God, he tells them.

The drama in Mirbacha Kot is playing out across Afghanistan’s health sector since the Taliban takeover. With power changing hands overnight, health workers have had to contend with a difficult adjustment. The host of problems that preceded the Taliban’s rise were exacerbated.

The U.S. froze Afghan assets in American accounts shortly after the takeover, in line with international sanctions, crippling Afghanistan’s banking sector. International monetary organizations that once funded 75% of state expenditures paused disbursements, precipitating an economic crisis in the aid-dependent nation.

medical facilities, including the salaries of health workers, said the Taliban’s Deputy Health Minister Abdulbari Umer.

Wages had been unpaid for months before the government collapsed.

“This is the biggest challenge for us. When we came here there was no money left,” said Umer. “There is no salary for staff, no food, no fuel for ambulances and other machines. There is no medicine for hospitals; we tried to find some from Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, but it’s not enough.”

In Mirbacha Kot, doctors have not been paid in five months.

Disheartened staff continue to attend to up to 400 patients a day, who come from the neighboring six districts. Some have general complaints or a heart condition. Others bring sick babies.

’What can we do? If we don’t want to come here there’s no other job for us. If there was another job, nobody can pay us. It’s better to stay here,” said Dr. Gul Nazar.

The first order of the day is the registration book. Ahmadi wants every doctor to sign in and out. It’s a formality most health workers are too busy to remember, but neglecting it is enough to inspire Ahmadi’s ire.

Second, the mosque.

Workers come to the hospital to take measurements for the project and Ahmadi gives them orders.

“We are Muslims, and we have 32 staff members, and for them, we need a mosque,” he said.

There are many benefits, he added. Relatives can stay with sick patients overnight, sleeping in the mosque, as the hospital lacks extra beds especially during the winter months. “And this is what is needed the most,” he said.

Dr. Najla Quami looked on, bewildered.

She, too, has not been paid in months and routinely complains of medicine shortages in the maternity ward. They have no pain medication for expectant mothers.

The pharmacy is stocked only with analgesic and some antibiotics. Is this the time for a mosque, she asked.

But Ahmadi said it was the responsibility of non-governmental organizations to resume their aid programs to finance these shortages. The money for the mosque will come from local donations.

His arrival ushered in other sweeping changes.

Men and women were told to stay in separate wards. Female doctors are forbidden to go to the emergency room. Ahmadi ordered them to wear a head covering and focus on female patients.

“We can’t go to the other side of the hospital,” said Dr. Elaha Ibrahimi, 27. “Woman is woman, man is man, he told us.”

Due to shortages, doctors advise patients to find medications elsewhere and return. Ibrahimi said Ahmadi often scrutinizes her prescriptions.

“He isn’t a doctor, we don’t know why he is here, we ask ourselves this all the time,” he said.

But Ahmadi is quick to allege deeply entrenched corruption in the hospital under the former hospital administrator, his predecessor from the former government.

He said he was aghast to uncover an entire warehouse full of medical equipment, furniture and other stolen goods to be sold in the market for personal profit. He could not offer proof that this was the intention of the previous administrator.

He sees his job to meticulously ensure that never happens again, echoing the Taliban’s broader aims for the nation.

Doctors are routinely lambasted by angry patients, most of whom can’t afford to pay for the life-saving medicines. “All of them fight with us,” Ibrahimi said.

Staff working the night shift say there is no food. The power shuts off for hours in the day with generator fuel quickly running out.

Quami holds a mobile phone for light as she makes her way to check on malnourished babies.

“Every doctor here is in a deep depression,” she said.

Ahmadi, by contrast, said his dreams were finally coming true.

Working in the hospital has afforded something life growing up poor never could: A medical education.

He claims that in the past two months he has learned how to administer injections and prescribe basic pharmaceuticals. He said that’s part of the reason why he scrutinizes Ibrahimi’s prescriptions.

“I know the names of the medicines needed for different conditions,” he said proudly. Recently, after a car accident, he was on the scene to provide an injection of painkillers, he added.

Ahmadi still dreams of being a doctor, and, like the health workers he supervises, hopes the money comes through somehow.

Source: Bahrain News Agency


ERC presents new batch of ambulances to Ethiopia

The UAE, represented by the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), today presented a new batch of ambulances, as part of its support for Ethiopia’s health sector.

Mohammed Salem Ahmed Mosaad Al Rashidi, UAE Ambassador to Ethiopia, said the initiative is continuing the humanitarian support provided by the UAE to friendly countries, most notably in the health sector.

He added that the donation to Ethiopia’s health sector underscores the UAE’s urgent approach to improving people’s lives by providing essential services to ease the suffering and meet the needs of the Ethiopian people.

The donation is one of many humanitarian and development initiatives launched by the UAE to ease human suffering, improve basic services and support the Ethiopian people, Al Rashidi said in conclusion.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation


H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed lauds work of UAE Polio Vaccination Campaign in Pakistan

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has praised the work of the UAE Polio Vaccination Campaign in Pakistan.

In a phone call with the campaign’s team, and with the participation of Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli, Director of the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE PAP), and several of the team’s members, Sheikh Abdullah said, “Today, due to the commitment and courage of the UAE Polio Vaccination Campaign, we are now closer than ever before to achieving the objective of having a world free from polio.”

On the annual World Polio Day which is observed on 24th of October, Sheikh Abdullah sent a message of appreciation to the campaign’s members and the children who benefitted from the teams’ work.

The campaign has provided 583,240,876 polio vaccine doses from 2014 to September 2021, benefitting over 102 million Pakistani children.

Sheikh Abdullah stressed that the significant success achieved by the campaign in Pakistan is the outcome of the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, along with the close monitoring of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

He then highlighted his pride and appreciation for the work of the campaign in Pakistan, which underscores the humanitarian approach of the UAE and its keenness to support friendly countries, as well as to assist the global efforts aimed at eradicating polio.

He also said that eradicating polio is not an easy mission, noting that promoting international cooperation and forging partnerships are among the key factors that will help maintain progress.

Sheikh Abdullah stressed that the UAE has adopted a pioneering humanitarian work approach, highlighting its leading initiatives and thanking Emirati field teams who helped achieve the campaign’s objectives.

From his side, Al Ghafli said that the campaign underscores the commitment of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to protect millions from polio and ensure children have the opportunity for a healthier future.

The campaign is taking place under the framework of the initiative of Sheikh Mohamed to eradicate polio around the world.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation


Vaccinated Bahrainis can enter Germany starting October 10

Berlin, Bahraini citizens vaccinated with the approved Covid-19 vaccines can enter Germany starting October 10, Bahrain’s embassy to Germany has announced.

Travelers must hold valid visas for all normally permitted purposes, including tourism, and undergo a PCR test 48 hours prior to travel.

The decision follows the adoption of a recommendation by the Council of the European Union to ease restrictions on travelers from Bahrain, as a result of the efforts of the concerned government agencies and their keenness to shares the results achieved by the Kingdom in addressing Covid-19 with various countries of the world.

Source: Bahrain News Agency


Qatar Sends Medical Aid to Algeria

The State of Qatar, represented by Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), sent urgent medical aid to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria to support its efforts in combating the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The medical assistance shipment arrived in Algeria, loaded with 200 respirators produced and provided by Barzan Holdings, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Defense.

HE QFFD Director-General Khalifa bin Jassim Al Kuwari underlined that the medical aid provided by the State of Qatar to brotherly and friendly countries is an embodiment of solidarity and cooperation between brothers and friends, and it comes within the framework of the global efforts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on the duty of the common international responsibility.

For his part, HE Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Algeria Abdulaziz bin Ali Al Naema highlighted the role of the State of Qatar in assisting brotherly and friendly countries since the beginning of the pandemic, in order to confront the repercussions of this pandemic and curb the spread of the disease.

HE the Ambassador affirmed the solidarity and continued cooperation between the two brotherly countries, and the deep and distinguished relations between them, noting that the leadership and the people of the State of Qatar stand by Algeria.

He added that the relations of the two countries are strong and well-established, and there is ongoing cooperation and coordination between the two countries on common issues, and that the wise leaderships of the two brotherly countries have the will to develop the cooperation and solidarity in all circumstances.

The State of Qatar had earlier sent, through QFFD, a shipment of medical assistance to Algeria contained 10 tons of aid. The State seeks through these efforts to extend a helping hand to brotherly and friendly countries and help them overcome the COVID-19 crisis that swept the world.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Minister of Public Health Held Discussions with WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean

Minister of Public Health H E Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari held a meeting today with World Health Organization (WHO)’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean H E Dr. Ahmed Salim Saif Al Mandhari.

During the meeting held via video conference, they reviewed the aspects of cooperation between the State of Qatar and WHO in improving health care in the Eastern Mediterranean region, in addition to discuss the preparations for opening a representative office of the organisation in the State of Qatar.

Source: Ministry of Public Health


His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed calls Brazilian President to check on his health

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, today called Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, over the phone, to check on his health while wishing him a speedy recovery and wellbeing.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed also conveyed to President Bolsonaro, who was recently hospitalised, the best wishes of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who wished him good health and further development and prosperity to the Brazilian people.

Bolsonaro thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohamed for his kindness, and wished the UAE and its people ongoing prosperity and development.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation


UAE sends 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Philippines

The UAE dispatched an aircraft, which arrived in the Philippines’ capital of Manila today, carrying medical supplies, including 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, as part of the UAE’s ongoing efforts to support countries in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Khaled Al Hajri, Chargé d’Affaires at the UAE Embassy in Manila, said that this step aligns with the UAE leadership’s keenness to support efforts made by authorities in the Philippines to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that the Philippines was among the first countries to receive medical aid from the UAE, wherein the UAE sent an aircraft carrying 7.3 metric tonnes of medical supplies in April 2020.

Al Hajri highlighted the deep ties between the UAE and the Philippines, which span several decades.

Since the pandemic’s onset, the UAE has provided more than 2,250 metric tonnes of aid to more than 136 countries.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation


UAE participates in first Meeting of International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation

The United Arab Emirates has stressed the importance of international cooperation in accelerating the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The country has followed a cooperative approach based on the spirit of collaboration, and adopted an integrated system for vaccine production and distribution, which it believes is key to meeting targets to boost global immunity.

This came during the participation of Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, in the first meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation hosted by China under the chairmanship of Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister. Held via video conference and with participation of representatives from over 20 countries, the forum aims to link countries that develop and produce vaccines with companies and stakeholders in order to promote the equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide.

Al Hashemy conveyed that the UAE has been at the forefront of global efforts to combat the pandemic in solidarity with the international community. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the UAE continues to disburse urgent medical supplies globally to support the efforts of various nations to contain the pandemic. To date, the UAE has dispatched over 2,200 tonnes of medical supplies to more than 135 countries, particularly throughout Africa and Asia. The UAE also plays a major role as a logistical center in the fight against COVID-19, through the Dubai-based International Humanitarian City, which played an integral role in shipping 80 percent of total global medical supplies and preventative equipment in response to the pandemic.

Furthermore, the UAE has supported the establishment of fully-equipped field hospitals (Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Field Hospitals) in Jordan, Guinea-Conakry, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, and most recently in Mauritania. These hospitals have contributed to increasing the capacity of health authorities in containing COVID-19.

Al Hashemy added that in parallel, the UAE has utilized its advanced logistical capabilities and transportation facilities and services to help expedite the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, including through storage and handling facilities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, in close cooperation with Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines, thereby geographically covering nearly 3.6 billion people around the world.

Speaking highly on the Hope Consortium initiative, Reem Al Hashemy expressed that it has provided nearly 65 million vaccine doses to 40 countries since its launch by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in 2020. The Hope Consortium is one of the largest and most integrated logistical solutions to provide vaccines to the global community. More recently, the UAE has also announced an in-kind donation of USD 50 million to the COVAX initiative to facilitate vaccine transport and delivery around the world.

She also referred to the recent collaboration with China to host the first COVID-19 vaccine production project in the UAE “Hayat Vax”; an advantage added to international efforts facing the COVID-19 crisis.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation


UAE sends plane carrying medical supplies to Mauritania in fight against COVID-19

The United Arab Emirates, through the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), has sent an aid plane carrying 80,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Mauritania to bolster the country’s efforts in curbing the spread of the virus.

This shipment of medical supplies, which arrived in conjunction with the opening of the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed field hospital to treat people infected with the virus, aims to provide greater protection for the vulnerable, the elderly, and those suffering from chronic diseases.

Hamad Ghanem Al Mehairi, UAE Ambassador to Mauritania, stressed the strength of bilateral relations, explaining that the UAE is always present in supporting Mauritania with its humanitarian and development initiatives.

“This health and humanitarian initiative embodies the UAE’s approach and continuous efforts to support the brotherly Mauritanian people and provide them with assistance in all fields. For many years, the UAE has undertaken great efforts in Mauritania in various aspects, foremost of which is the interest in the health aspect.”

Dr. Mohammed Ateeq Al Falahi, ERC Secretary-General, said that this initiative comes in line with the UAE’s efforts to limit the spread of the virus around the world, based on its humanitarian and pioneering role in combating the pandemic.

He stressed that these vaccines will contribute to strengthening preventive and precautionary measures among Mauritanian people, limit the outbreak of the pandemic, and helping to reach the stage of recovery.

To date, the UAE has sent more than 2,200 tonnes of medical supplies to more than 136 countries.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation