Local officials said the Taliban has demanded the opening of health centers in unstable districts of southern Kandahar province.
The Taliban’s demand comes as several districts of Kandahar are faced with a shortage of health care facilities due to insecurity.
Provincial Governor Hamayon Azizi told Pajhwok Afghan News the Taliban’s call for providing health services to the people was positive.
He said it was impossible in the past to open health clinics in restive areas due to security threats.
The departments concerned should take advantage of the opportunity and open health centers in remote districts and border areas, the governor said.
Azizi asked the Ministry of Public health to set up at least 20 more healthcare centers in Kandahar province during this solar year.
“There are limited health services in the districts. Only one clinic is functional in each of big districts. At least two districts don’t have even a single clinic,” he explained.
He also referred to a shortage of female health workers in district healthcare centers, asking the Public Health Ministry to train at least five local women as midwives in each town.
Azizi said female health workers from other areas were not interested in working in remote districts. The issue needed to be addressed as a priority, the governor stated.
Public Health Director Dr. Abdul Qayyum Pukhla confirmed the Taliban’s demand. “The Taliban have demanded the opening of health services in Shorabak, Registan, Mianshin, Ghorak and Shah Walikot districts.”
Health services at the district level were limited or non-existent, admitted Pukhla, who said that the Ministry of Public Health should positively respond to the demand.
He said there were a total of 97 healthcare centers with 14 of them private in Kandahar province. Fifty of the centers are open in districts and the rest in Kandahar city, the capital of the province, he added.
Given Kandahar’s huge population, current health services were insufficient as most of residents were without essential facilities, Pukhla acknowledged.
Public Health Minister Dr. Firozuddin Firoz said his ministry remained committed to extending health services to all people without any discrimination.
He verified 60 percent of Kandahar residents did not have access to health services, but pledged all-out efforts to augment medical coverage despite a shortage of funds.
He promised 30 sub-clinics would be built in Kandahar province and the process of constructing a 350-bed hospital accelerated this year.
Residents of rural areas, meanwhile, welcomed Taliban’s suggestion. They hoped the people, who had long been deprived of medical facilities, would be able to gain access to health services.