Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Saturday that according to forecasts, Kabul will get less snow this winter but will see higher levels of pollution.
The EPA warned that if Kabul residents do not pay special attention to what they use as fuel, the pollution levels will increase and more people will fall ill.
“Forecasts show that this winter Kabul and a few other provinces, like last winter, will get less snow and rain. However, the forecasts also show that mountainous and high-lying provinces will witness more snow,” said Abdul Wali Modaqiq, EPA’s deputy director general.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said that a lack of rain has resulted in the increase of respiratory illnesses among Kabul residents and that if little snow falls this winter, many people will fall ill.
“In the past few years, especially in the past few months, the percentage of patients with pollution-related illnesses has increased. Thus we should be prepared for the upcoming winter,” said Khawja Qamaruddin Siddiqi, an advisor to the MoPH.
Officials from Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital also said about 200 children who suffer from respiratory illnesses are brought to the hospital for treatment each day.
“Nearly 200 hundred respiratory patients come to this hospital. Most of them fell ill because of the pollution,” said Sayed Jan Qazizada, a doctor at the hospital.
Abdul Aziz is the father of a four-year-old girl who has been in hospital for 19 days.
“Rabia got pneumonia and her illness got worse day by day. Then we came here and it is the 19th day that we stayed here. I spent around 35,000 Afs, but still she does not feel well,” Abdul Aziz said.
However, the MoPH says they have plans to deal with the problem of pollution, should it increase. They said that in cooperation with the EPA they will announce an emergency situation and people will be banned from going to heavily polluted areas and schools will be closed for a period of time.