WHO opens 100-bed drug addiction treatment hospital in Kandahar

By Rahimullah Khpelwak

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set up a regional hospital with 100 beds in Kandahar city to treat drug addicts and contribute to the reduction of addiction in southern Afghanistan. [Rahimullah Khpelwak/Salaam Times]

KANDAHAR -- The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a 100-bed regional hospital in Kandahar city for the treatment of drug addicts and to help reduce the scourge of addiction in southern Afghanistan.

The construction of the hospital, which cost more than $1 million, ended last year. The hospital is now fully operational.

Four more hospitals will be established to treat drug addicts in each of the country's four regional centers, said Luo Dapeng, WHO's representative to Afghanistan.

"We are very happy today to operationalize the rehab center in Kandahar. This health center has 100 beds where drug addicts from the southern region are treated," he said August 9.

Men undergoing drug addiction treatment are seen August 9 at a 100-bed regional hospital in Kandahar city supported by the World Health Organization (WHO). [Rahimullah Khpelwak/Salaam Times]

Men undergoing drug addiction treatment are seen August 9 at a 100-bed regional hospital in Kandahar city supported by the World Health Organization (WHO). [Rahimullah Khpelwak/Salaam Times]

"Right now, only male addicts are being treated at the hospital, but we are trying to establish a rehab section for women and children too," he added.

The WHO supports a women's rehab center in Kabul and is planning to cover female addicts under its assistance in Herat, Kandahar and Nangarhar as well, Luo said.

The construction of the new hospital in Kandahar has resolved space and resource issues, said hospital director Esmatullah Amin.

"We used to face too many challenges and lacked appropriate facilities and resources," he said. "We could admit only 20 addicts at a time, but now we have hundreds of addicts under treatment and we have the necessary resources to do so," he said.

"Our mobile teams, in co-operation with the WHO, also treat addicts that live with their families," he added.

Preventing relapse

Esmatullah, 28, a resident of Arghandab district of Kandahar, is undergoing treatment at the new hospital after seven years of addiction, which started after he went to Iran for work.

He said he is thankful for the opportunity to receive treatment and is hopeful he will return healthy to his family.

Esmatullah said he was once hospitalized for a whole month without adequate food or medicine.

"But we have been at this hospital for five days, and we have access to all the resources," he said.

Esmatullah said he is determined to never touch drugs again after his treatment and to live peacefully with his family.

Nazir Ahmad, 24, another patient at the rehab center, said the hospital provides a valuable service to addicts and will help them return to normal life.

"Doctors at this rehab center take good care of us. They examine us every day and prescribe us medication, and we are given very good meals three times a day," he said.

"I want to start working after my rehab so that I am completely distanced from drugs," he said. "If there are jobs, we can work and provide for our families. We call on the UN [United Nations] agencies to create work opportunities for us."

Sardar Mohammad, 41, another patient, said he hopes to return to his family as soon as possible.

"Drugs destroyed my life for more than 10 years. I got addicted to drugs in Iran, and when I returned to Kandahar, everyone looked down on me since I was an addict."

"I have had a very difficult life since then," he said.

Mohammad called on aid agencies to help by creating jobs for recovered drug addicts.

"I want to work like the rest of the healthy men in society after my rehabilitation and build a good life," he said, adding that having a job will help prevent a relapse.

Resolving a social problem

According to a number of Kandahar residents, addiction is a serious problem in the province.

"Addicts use drugs on the sidewalks every day while children and women walk by," said Safiullah, 25, a resident of Kandahar city.

"This has led to health problems for the public and negative exposure for children," he said. "I am happy that drug addicts are being taken from the city and treated."

Many addicts also have communicable diseases that could be transmitted to other members of society, Safiullah said, hoping that treating them will reduce the incidence of disease.

Support from aid agencies is critical in treating thousands of addicts, others say.

A major problem will be resolved with the rehabilitation of drug addicts, said Khair Mohammad, 65, a tribal elder in Kandahar.

"Thousands of our youth live on streets and sidewalks. Drugs have destroyed their lives, separating them from their families and society," he said. "If they are treated, they can work and support their families."

"We call on aid agencies to provide further support in treating them. If they don't, there are no resources in the country in the current situation to treat drug addicts," he added.

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Building a hospital is not useful as long as cultivation and selling of poppy crops are not stopped. Many people are being hospitalized and treated for four or five months, but when they come out, they do not recover because of unemployment and bad environment, and because other drugs are found, so it is very difficult for a person not to take it. In such an environment, he becomes addicted to drugs again. The government should first stop poppy cultivation. After that, they may stop using drugs altogether, and in the third step, provide employment opportunities for drug addicts who have been treated and recovered.


Building such a hospital for addicts is a great job. These people need mercy. They are also human and lovable people. Now that they are suffering from this situation, it is the responsibility of the current government to free these addicts from this punishment and treat them properly. And after the treatment, provide them with a small job so that these people would not get addicted to drugs again.


In my opinion, compared to building a hospital for addicts, preventing drug cultivation and sale is important. If the government cares about the people, please stop the cultivation of poppy in Helmand and some other provinces and then impose a strict ban on general drugs in the country. We will accept that the Taliban are against all kinds of drugs. It is good that the hospital was built, but the pain cannot be treated because it is not closed! This thing needs to be closed! Do not sprinkle dust in the eyes of the nation. Now, the nation knows everything.


It is good news for addicts as they can be treated. Addiction is a dangerous disease and in Afghanistan the disease of addiction is very much, it should be prevented because day by day young people who are unemployed turn to addiction. It is good news that a hospital with 100 beds is built for treating drug addicts, but the authorities should pay attention to the drug market, because on one hand, there is treatment, and on the other hand, they use drugs. Another big problem in Afghanistan is unemployment which should be prevented, because what should the jobless youth do? The government is responsible for providing work for the youth of the country so that they are not forced to immigrate to another country through human trafficking, or become addicted, because this way the society will be destroyed.


It is good news for addicts that a health center is being built for them, but the most important question is why these people have become addicted to drugs? Who made them get addicted? why is the drug trade not stopped? why is the government not arresting those who are openly selling any kind of drugs? Instead of building health centers, the government should focus on important points, although currently more work has been done in the field of health for drug addicts in Afghanistan than before, but what is worrying is that lack of treatment for drug addicts, lack of work, is what causes these people to become drug addicts again and again. For this, it is the responsibility of the government to provide job opportunities to these people.


The number of drug addicts has increased in Afghan society, but the current government has done enough. In the remote areas, the poppy and hemp, which used to be planted and used to be harvested in great quantities, are now banned, which is an outstanding achievement of the current government. If campaigns are conducted for the addicts, and they are assembled together, and hospitals are built for them, and they get treated, the community will be cleansed of drugs, and the addicts will recover.


Helping the addicts recover is a big task. If ways to treat them are not found, their number increases in the community, and others suffer. Teenagers also face addiction because of these addicts. In the beginning, the youths don't understand, but later, they get addicted to it, and finally, they turn to begging, stealing, looting... in the community. In general, there is a need to deal with drug addicts, and besides, it is essential to create job opportunities for all sections of society. The government and organizations must create job opportunities for the people.


We welcome the establishment of a hundred-bed hospital for the treatment of drug addicts in Kandahar. For this, we thank WHO and other UN organizations and the world. According to other media outlets, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Friday in a report that Afghanistan's health system is facing severe funding shortages. The mentioned organization warned that if sufficient budget is not provided, 8 million people in Afghanistan will be deprived of access to health services. According to the report of the World Health Organization, 450,000 patients still have little or no access to vital, health, blood transfusion and other services. The organization estimated that 1.6 million people are facing neurological problems and have little access to mental health counseling. According to the World Health Organization, decades of instability, severe drought and natural disasters have caused Afghanistan to face a long-term humanitarian crisis, and millions of people are facing poverty, lack of access to health services and food shortage, and now they are facing the serious threat of nutrition and the spread of diseases. The organization's report added that complete deprivation of education and work for girls and women has made them more vulnerable and they have little access to health services. According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, 14 million people in Afghanistan need health services. It is at a time as the Taliban government is collecting money and G