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Afghanistan: Women gradually being readmitted to Kabul hospitals

26-11-1997 News Release 97/47

After two months of patient negotiations with the Taliban authorities, the ICRC has observed that women are being readmitted to Kabul's two main hospitals. Likewise, many Afghan female medical staff resumed work at both establishments last week. On 18 November, 25 women were admitted to Karte Seh while 30 were being treated at Wazir Akhbar Khan. With a total of 450 beds, the two hospitals together have over 600 Afghan medical staff (including 140 women). Both have surgical facilities and receive funding and supplies from the ICRC. During the first seven months of this year, over 4,600 patients -- men, women and children -- were admitted, half of them with war wounds.

The gradual readmission of women into Kabul's hospitals follows a period of crisis that began in early September, when the Ministry of Public Health decided to channel all female patients into a single place of medical care. Noting that the facility was ill-equipped, most of the humanitarian organizations in the Afghan capital expressed their concern. The ICRC immediately started discussions with the Ministries of Public Health and Foreign Affairs. The aim was to find practical solutions ensuring access for all to high-quality medical treatment, while showing due respect for the religious traditions and practices favoured by the Taliban leadership.

On 5 November, the Taliban officially informed the ICRC delegation of its wish to reach an agreement regarding the existing " mixed " facilities. To this end a special committee was set up with the task of monitoring the situation in the capital's 22 hospitals. The body is composed of representatives of the Ministries of Justice and Public Health, the head of the re ligious police, and staff from the ICRC, the United Nations and a number of non-governmental organizations in Kabul.




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