By Zohra Elham
Access to health services in Afghanistan, despite the huge investment of the international community, has many problems. Afghans must walk for hours to go to the nearest health centers. But when they arrive, the problems begin. Most of the centers do not have specialist doctors, and in many of them, medicines and other facilities are not available.
Though recently, health centers and government and private hospitals in different parts of Afghanistan have improved marginally, a large number of Afghan patients travel to other countries, face various problems and excessive expenses for treatment.
Pakistan, each month, hosts a large number of Afghan patients. Afghan patients from all corners of Afghanistan are going to the Pakistani hospitals because they are not satisfied with the medical facilities inside their own country.
As the health issues and the lack of modern hospitals in the country have been making our people suffer in various ways for the last few decades now, the efforts to improve the health situation in the country have not been satisfactory. The health sector in the country has to a long way to reach an acceptable level. As per the regional criteria, the Afghan government must carry out untiring efforts to improve the health facilities in the country. Huge expenditures and long-term plans, in this regard, can be pivotal to set the stage for a long-term endeavor.
In this context, the inauguration of Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital in Kabul is a ray of hope for the betterment of health facilities in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan and Afghan Minister of Public Health, Ferozuddin Feroz jointly inaugurated the hospital in an auspicious ceremony in the city, while, Second Vice President Muhammad Sarwar Danish participated on the occasion as a Chief Guest.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital is funded by Pakistan’s Ministry of Public Health, and is worth $24 million. The hospital has two hundred beds and various modern facilities.
The Sarwar Danish, at the ceremony, said he was grateful for the humanitarian assistance of Pakistan to build the hospital and they would expect Pakistan to help bring peace to the Afghanistan, because both countries are burning as a result of terrorism.
On the other hand, the Minister of Public Health Firozuddin Firuz promised at the opening of the hospital that the it will also provide emergency medical services, emergency surgery and kidney transplants. He emphasized that the Ministry of Public Health is working to provide the ground for treating cancer at the hospital.
On the occasion, Pakistan’s parliamentary affairs minister Ali Muhammad Khan said that the inauguration of the Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital is an important milestone for the Afghan and Pakistani people.
“Another hospital with Pakistan’s humanitarian assistance will be built in Nangarhar province,” he said. He added that Pakistan wants Afghanistan to be a progressive and secure country, and Pakistan is always trying to grow better relations with its neighboring countries.
The Islamabad government has pledged to contribute 3,000 million rupees to the Afghan health sector, and this cooperation will take place for all kinds of problems. On the other hand, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the establishment of a hospital for the treatment of cancer in Afghanistan.
With the opening of Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital in Kabul, we hope that the Ministry of Public Health can provide better health services for the people in the country so that our other patients do not go to other countries for treatment.
This hospital is in addition to what Pakistan has contributed to Afghanistan during the last eighteen years, including the new Balkh University and the Kabul Military School. Pakistan also provides around three thousand scholarships for Afghan students each year.
Pakistan, being the neighboring country of Afghanistan with the longest border, and with deep linguistic, ethnic, religious and cultural ties, has been sheltering nearly two million Afghan refugees on its soil, which reflects the depth of friendship between the two neighboring countries.
The aspiration of the Afghan people is that the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan can reach to the point where the two countries can live in the fullest and best of all relations. This can be achieved when Afghanistan and Pakistan can defeat extremism and hatred.
The importance of relations with Pakistan for a country like Afghanistan cannot be overlooked by anyone, but what matters is that these relationships are within the framework of a strong strategy, taking into account the national interests of both countries and peaceful coexistence. Currently, Afghanistan can benefit from existing capabilities in Pakistan in various fields.
Pakistan is a developing industrial country, and Afghanistan, because of the lack of modern agricultural infrastructure, is unable to meet many of its needs in this area, so the best option for meeting these needs is through Pakistan. Because of the common border, easy access routes, and affordable materials, Afghanistan’s access to these markets is far more cost-effective than others. Pakistan is also the shortest transit route for Afghanistan to international free waters, which can be of great help in Afghanistan’s economy and transit. Therefore, we can say that Pakistan, with its cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious background, is one of the most influential countries in the region for Afghanistan.
Zohra Elham is a student of political science. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.