WHO opens new infectious disease hospital in Afghanistan's northeast

By Muhammad Qasem

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has opened a 50-bed hospital in Kunduz province to improve access to emergency health services and infectious disease care in Afghanistan's four northeastern provinces. [Courtesy of Ezatullah Mansoori]

KUNDUZ -- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has opened a 50-bed hospital in Kunduz province to improve access to emergency health services and infectious disease care in Afghanistan's four northeastern provinces.

The one-storey hospital was built in nine months using modern construction materials, Najibullah Sahel, director of the Kunduz Department of Public Health, said at an inauguration ceremony last Thursday (May 4).

"Fortunately, today we are inaugurating and opening the 50-bed infectious disease and COVID-19 hospital in the city of Kunduz," he said.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is operating the hospital, which will address the medical needs of residents of Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces, Sahel said.

Medical personnel attend the inauguration ceremony of a 50-bed hospital on May 4 in Kunduz city. [Courtesy of Ezatullah Mansoori]

Medical personnel attend the inauguration ceremony of a 50-bed hospital on May 4 in Kunduz city. [Courtesy of Ezatullah Mansoori]

Sahel did not provide any details about the cost of the project but emphasised that residents of the four northeastern provinces no longer will have to bring patients to Kabul or abroad for treatment.

"Given the challenges that residents of the northeastern province face in getting their patients to Kabul for treatment ... we decided to build this hospital," he said. "Urgent, infectious and COVID-19 patients will be treated at this hospital."

The hospital can potentially expand to 100 beds in emergencies and has units for arthroscopy, laparoscopy, paediatric orthopaedic services and pathology, among other specialties, according to Sahel.

"Fortunately, there is sufficient medical equipment available at the hospital to treat patients and all medical services are provided for free," he added.

Providing critical health services

The risk of infectious diseases increases as the weather gets hotter, making such health facilities a necessity, according to Qais Nazari, 38, a resident of Kunduz province.

"Every summer the situation becomes very worrying when the temperature reaches 50°C, since more [Afghans] -- especially children and the elderly -- face higher risks of contracting infectious diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, typhus and stomach cramps," said Nazari.

"For years residents of the northeastern provinces took their patients to Kabul or Mazar-e-Sharif for medical purposes because they lacked [local] medical centres," said Abdul Wakil Saeedi, 35, a resident of Takhar province.

"Patients sometimes would lose their lives on the road from the long distance and bad road conditions," he said.

"Our [local population] is poor and cannot afford paying family members' costs for transportation to and medical care in Kabul and other provinces," he added.

"Therefore, the establishment of this medical centre by the United Nations is a very important step in reducing mortality rates and controlling diseases."

Mohammad Omar, 47, a resident of Kunduz, expressed relief over having a well equipped hospital close to home that is open 24 hours a day.

"There was a hospital in our province in the past, but the number of patients was too high," he said. "Urgent and infectious patients could not get due attention, and therefore we had to travel for hours to get our patients to Kabul."

"In case of an emergency in the past, we faced so many problems getting our patients to a hospital," he said. "Now, with this hospital, we have access to health services day and night."

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Inauguration of this 50-bed infectious hospital in Kunduz province solves many problems of the patients in Badakhshan, Takhar, Baghlan and Kunduz provinces. The poor people of these four provinces are happy about the inauguration of this hospital by the World Health Organization (WHO). In the past, people of these four provinces used to transfer their patients to Kabul, and with inauguration of this hospital, the people of these four provinces are currently bringing their patients to this hospital for treatment. Due to the absence of this hospital in Kunduz province, most of the people transfer their patients to Kabul and the patients die on the way from Kunduz to Kabul, and now people can easily bring their patients to the hospital. The World Health Organization (WHO) has given a huge help to the people of the four northeastern provinces of Afghanistan, and all the people of Afghanistan express their gratitude for the inauguration of this hospital.


I think there are such small hospitals in all provinces, and every hospital, if not many, provides some services. Every year thousands of people lose their lives in Afghanistan. The high death rate is due to the lack of standard and equipped hospitals. If not in the whole of Afghanistan, then at least at the level of the zones, and if not for the whole of Afghanistan, a hospital should be built to treat severe diseases such as cancer, etc. This work should have been done in the last two decades, but since corruption had reached its peak, it was not done, so now is a good time. It would be great if this part could be worked on. In the 21st century, it is a shame as a country full of minerals has not made any progress in the health sector.


A lot of people live in Kunduz. Hospitals should be built for Kunduz and any other province with a large population. Building hospitals is one thing, and maintaining them is another. As much as it is necessary to build a hospital or other institution, it is more important to maintain it. The people of the area should help in keeping this hospital. Maintaining even the density of such an organization is essential. Another thing is that the people should pay money for its preservation, and it should be repaired from time to time. We have the right as international organizations to create infrastructures for us, but we must maintain them. I mentioned the world organizations because we have sacrificed for the world community. We were Afghans who freed Western countries from the mess of the Soviet Union empire. Still, unfortunately, in 1992, the international community left Afghans alone, resulting in tens of thousands of Afghans being killed and Afghanistan turning into ruins. Now that the United Nations, USAID, and other organizations have helped reconstruct Afghanistan, we respect and thank them from the bottom of our hearts. May there always be peace in the world.


It is a pleasure that works are done for people's health. May this caravan of construction be strong. So that people can benefit from it inside the country. They were hoping for a day when such a standard hospital would be built in Afghanistan to provide standard services for the treatment of the people today. Thanks to the Ministry of Health of Afghanistan and the organizations for working hard. Mohammad Nabi, a member of Afghanistan's national cricket team, has also announced that he plans to build a special hospital for the country's diagnosis and treatment of cancer. If this plan is implemented and a cancer hospital is built, if skilled and expert doctors are appointed, I am sure that we will not need India, Pakistan, Iran, or any other country. In Afghanistan, not only are there not enough possibilities for treating and diagnosing cancer, but treating some diseases at a lower level than cancer is also not possible here. It is hoped that Muhammad Nabi will cooperate in this good work and that the life of the Afghan people will be looked at seriously so that they are safe from diseases.