WHO opens air bridge to Afghanistan with medical supplies


GENEVA (Reuters) – A plane carrying World Health Organization medicines and health supplies landed in Afghanistan on Monday, the UN health agency said, the first shipment to get in since the country came under the control of the Taliban.

“After days of non-stop work to find a solution, I am very pleased to say that we have now been able to partially replenish stocks of health facilities in Afghanistan and ensure that — for now – WHO-supported health services can continue,” Ahmed Al Mandhari, WHO regional director for the eastern Mediterranean, said in a statement.

The WHO had warned on Friday that medical supplies would run out within days in Afghanistan, announcing that it hoped to establish an air bridge into the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif by then with the help of Pakistani authorities.

The 12.5 tonnes of supplies that arrived on Monday consist of trauma kits and emergency health kits, enough to cover the basic health needs of more than 200,000 people as well as provide 3,500 surgical procedures and treat 6,500 trauma patients, the WHO said.

They will be delivered to 40 health facilities in 29 provinces across Afghanistan, it added.

The plane, which was provided by the government of Pakistan, flew from Dubai to Mazar-i-Sharif airport. It was the first of three flights planned with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to fill urgent shortages in medicines and medical supplies in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Michael Shields, Editing by William Maclean)





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