Where We Work

Afghanistan

International Medical Corps was established in 1984 by voluteer doctors and nurses to address the critical need for medical care in war-torn Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Some 35 years later, we are still there, delivering healthcare, healthcare-related services and training as Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most complex humanitarian emergencies. An estimated 2.6 million Afghans are displaced within their own country with 6.3 million in need of some form of humanitarian or protection assistance in 2019–almost double that of the previous year.

In a June 2019 report UNOCHA reported more than 2 million children under 5 are acutely malnourished, compared to 1.3 million in 2017 and in six conflict-affected provinces, fewer than 20% of women receive more than one antenatal visit compared to 64% nationally.  Health facilities remain a common target of violence, resulting in the suspension of services in several locations. Recurring natural hazards, such as avalanches, earthquakes, flooding and landslides, exacerbate the situation. The combination of the volatile security situation and frequent natural disasters make it difficult to reach populations in need. According to the World Food Program, huge differences in living standards persist between those living in cities and those in rural areas. The country has some of the world’s highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates, due to a widespread lack of access to adequate food and nutrition. Our priority in Afghanistan is to improve the quality of life and health status of those Afghans we serve, in part by strengthening the capacity of the public health system.

Population

35 

million

Life Expectancy

61/64.5 

male/female

Infant mortality rate

51.5 deaths 

per 1,000 live births

The Challenges

Ongoing Conflict & Natural Disasters

2019 has seen a further increase in violence across Afghanistan

Weak Health Systems

There are only two physicians per 10,000 people, and five nurses and midwives per 10,000 people (2018 WHO)

Malnutrition

6.3 million Afghans are in need, including 2.4 million children under 5 years (UNOCHA 2018)

Poor Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Progress has been made in recent years to provide rural populations with greater access to improved drinking water sources, but much still needs to be done

Gender-Based Violence

According to one national report, 87% of Afghan women experience at least one form of either physical, sexual or psychological violence, and 62% experience at least two (UNFPA 2016)

Our Response

Emergency Response & Preparedness

International Medical Corps builds sustainable response capacity in communities and among front-line emergency responders. We work with communities to reduce their risk exposure to natural hazards, such as avalanches and landslides, and help them set up emergency response systems that can be rolled out if and when disasters do strike. This includes training Afghans at the local and district levels to pre-position, mobilize and distribute emergency relief and shelter supplies, and equipping people to provide first-aid and basic trauma care. We help to establish community emergency response teams and early-alert systems, and work with hospitals, schools, and the provincial and national Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority so that they are prepared when disasters strike. These efforts currently benefit nearly 48,000 people directly.

Emergency & Primary Healthcare

In partnership with the Ministry of Public Health, International Medical Corps is providing life-saving emergency healthcare services to tens of thousands of people who have been affected by Afghanistan’s ongoing conflict. This includes trauma care as well as primary healthcare, maternal and newborn healthcare, mental health care, prevention and treatment of communicable diseases and other services. We support four hospitals, 33 primary healthcare facilities, two mobile medical units, four trauma health posts and 172 health posts in Nuristan and Paktika provinces.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programs

Barely a quarter of Afghanistan’s population is estimated to have access to sanitation facilities—a reality that creates fertile ground for disease outbreaks. This is especially true among populations that have been uprooted from their homes by conflict or natural disaster. We use an approach known as community-led total sanitation (CLTS), which mobilizes communities to end open defecation by focusing on behavior change. Our WASH teams work closely with communities to educate them on the risks of open defecation, and then enable them to educate others. We do this by forming Family Health Action Groups, which work with Community Health Workers to foster behavior change around sanitation and hygiene at the household level.

We also provide safe drinking water, hygiene supplies and sanitation facilities to refugees, returnees and people affected by conflict and natural disasters in Nangarhar Province. In Paktika, International Medical Corps delivers emergency WASH assistance, including building latrines, drilling boreholes and training volunteers to serve as hygiene promoters for Pakistani refugees and Afghan host community members.

Gender-Based Violence Programs

International Medical Corps is working to change attitudes and behaviors that contribute to gender-based violence (GBV) in Afghanistan, as well as to reduce the stigmas that shadow survivors. We do this through targeted social and behavior change activities. We also ensure that medical and psychosocial support is available for survivors of GBV through our health facilities and community-based support mechanisms, including training health workers and local partners in GBV case management and referral. Our current GBV activities reach nearly 1 million people in six provinces, including Kabul, Nangarhar, Herat, Balkh, Baghlan and Bamyan provinces.

First Responders Save Lives After Earthquake

When the ground violently shook during the 7.5-magnitude earthquake in the remote Charmango Qala village in Kunar Province, Fazal–Ur-Rehman knew immediately what to do. During the shaking, he ran out from his home to avoid being hit by falling debris. He watched as many of the houses around him crumbled, trapping his neighbors inside. He shot his bird hunting gun in the air—the unofficial SOS signal in the community—to call for help.

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Our Impact

nearly 75,000
people were provided with health consultations during the three month period between June and September 2018
nearly 1 million
people provided access to health sector support for GBV

Resources

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