Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - WHO chief, Taliban discuss Afghan health



WHO chief, Taliban discuss Afghan health

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus meet with the Taliban health minister for talks on ‘dire’ health and humanitarian issues in Afghanistan. AFP

WHO chief, Taliban discuss Afghan health

The Head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on February 9 he had met with the Taliban’s health minister for talks on the “dire” health and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus revealed that he met Qalander Ebad for talks on February 8.

Ebad is part of a Taliban delegation visiting Geneva for a week of talks with institutions and non-governmental agencies on humanitarian access and human rights, as Afghanistan’s new rulers expand their international engagement.

The hardline Islamist Taliban movement returned to power in Kabul in mid-August as the US ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Since then, Afghanistan has plunged into financial chaos, with inflation and unemployment surging, while the halting of aid has triggered a humanitarian crisis in a country already devastated by decades of war.

Tedros had already met Ebad during his visit to Kabul in September 2021 in the wake of the Taliban takeover.

“Despite some improvements since then, the health situation in Afghanistan is still dire and the acute humanitarian crisis is continuing to put lives at risk,” Tedros said.

He said they discussed health needs in the country, strengthening the system, emergency preparedness and training the health workforce, in which women are central.

“The acute need in Afghanistan is to deliver diagnostics to detect the Covid-19 virus, and in particular Omicron, as the number of cases is on the rise,” Tedros said.

The Taliban delegation, representing what it calls the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), is in Switzerland at the invitation of Geneva Call, which works to protect civilians during conflict.

The foundation is hosting a conference on Afghanistan behind closed doors from February 7-11, aimed at enhancing the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country.

Tedros said the WHO was supporting the Covid-19 response in Afghanistan as well as its polio and measles immunisation campaigns.

“We also discussed progress on girls’ education at all levels, including higher education and support for joining the health workforce,” the UN health agency chief said.

“WHO calls on the international community to continue with dialogue to support the people of Afghanistan, so that we improve the health and well-being of all Afghan people.”

The Taliban delegation will also meet with Swiss and other European officials, plus the Red Cross during its visit – though Switzerland’s foreign ministry insisted its presence on Swiss soil did not constitute recognition of the government.

The Geneva-based medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it too would hold talks with the delegation.

“MSF has been in contact with the IEA health ministry for several years, in the context of our medical activities in Afghanistan. We will meet with them during their stay in Geneva to discuss current medical needs and our plans,” a spokesman said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement