On April 16th, 2020 the “General Assembly to Fight Coronavirus Crisis in Herat” held a panel discussion on “Practical Solutions to Fight the Coronavirus Pandemic”. The panelists at the event were: Dr. Mohammad Dauod Altaf, Team leader for Health Emergency at WHO Afghanistan, Dr. Khushal Nabizada, Public Health Specialist and Country Director of Action for Development and Dr. Noorullah Arian, anesthesiologist.
Each panelist identified practical solutions to fight the spread of coronavirus in Afghanistan; these included: providing medical training to staff at border crossings, early detection of positive cases at the district level and training health personnel at ICU facilities.
Dr. Altaf stated that the World Health Organization declared a state of emergency on January 29th due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In early February, the organization began its work with the Afghan Ministry of Public Health. Their primary goal was to train healthcare workers and focus on the country’s border areas. Dr. Altaf recommended the establishment of specific coronavirus diagnostic and treatment centers in Kabul and other provinces. Currently, Afghanistan counts 2,000 beds available for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
Dr. Nabizada identified solidarity and unity between institutions as paramount in the fight against the coronavirus. He also urged the population to take social distance measures seriously. The main concern for Afghanistan, according to Dr. Nabizada, is lack of early detection of positive cases; currently, no facilities have yet been established, at the district level, to record positive cases.
Dr. Arian focused on the state of the Intensive Care Unit at medical facilities; given the fragile health system of the country, priority should be given to training medical personnel on ICU procedures. Currently, most nurses at ICU facilities have not received the necessary training needed for treating patients affected by COVID-19.