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Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development how many hospitals in Afghanistan have shortages of (a) nurses, (b) doctors, (c) drugs and (d) beds. [119618]

An Afghanistan Health Resources Assessment was carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Health by Management Sciences for Health in 2002. This national survey gathered information about the location and facilities of hospitals and health centres, services provided, human resources and rehabilitation needs.The survey identified 21 regional/national hospitals, 41 provincial hospitals and 114 district hospitals. 87 per cent. of the 1,038 hospitals and health facilities identified are presently operating.The survey identified 8,445 beds in 210 health facilities (approximately 1 bed for every 2,500 people). Most of these beds are located in urban areas—Kabul in particular. On average, developing countries have 2.7 hospital beds per 1,000 population. The survey suggests that Afghanistan has 0.4 of a bed per 1,000 population.There are approximately 2,300 doctors (approximately 0.1 per 1,000 population), (average rate in developing countries 1.1). There are massive shortages of nurses and qualified birth attendants: doctors make up over a quarter of all health workers. 40 per cent. of facilities providing basic health care have no female health provider. This is extremely important in this largely conservative Muslim country with strong taboos against female patients being treated by male health providers.Over 80 per cent. of health facilities currently receive external support for drugs and supplies. The availability of five of the most important primary care level drugs was good, at 90 per cent.