(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Italian NGO faces funding crunch

As violence plagues large parts of Afghanistan civilians are increasingly affected and denied access to essential health services
Akmal Dawi/IRIN

An Italian NGO called Emergency, which runs three hospitals and 28 healthcare centres for war victims in Afghanistan, is planning to cut back its activities due to shrinking funds.



With an annual budget of about US$8 million and 1,000 national and 40 international staff in Afghanistan, Emergency’s health facilities provided medical services to over 100,000 patients and war wounded in 2008.



The NGO says it has treated over 2.1 million people since 1999. Its three hospitals are in Kabul and the provinces of Helmand and Panjshir.



“It is definitely the impact of the global financial crisis,” programme coordinator Marco Garatti told IRIN in Kabul, explaining that Emergency was considering reducing the number of its international staff and cutting some project activities.



“Our funds come from private individuals, not from institutional donors such as the World Bank and USAID [US Agency for International Development]. When people’s priorities are not fulfilled they reduce their contributions,” Garatti said.



NGOs involved in medical activities say a large number of Afghans are hard pressed to find the health care they need, particularly in the insecure southern and eastern provinces.



“The intensity of the conflict leads to many wounded and displaced and to a disruption of services, adding to the health crisis faced in parts of Afghanistan,” the international medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said in a statement on 29 June.



In addition to treating victims of war, Emergency’s health centres provide obstetric, paediatric and other essential health services. “Our activities are needed more than before,” Garatti said.


''The
intensity of the conflict leads to many wounded and displaced and to a
disruption of services, adding to the health crisis faced in parts of
Afghanistan.
''

MSF returns



Meanwhile, MSF has announced the resumption of its activities in Afghanistan after a five-year absence.



MSF suspended operations in the country after five MSF workers were killed by unidentified armed assailants in the northwestern province of Badghis on 2 June 2004.



According to an agreement signed between MSF and the Ministry of Public Health on 30 June, MSF will help deliver health services at two hospitals - in Helmand and Kabul provinces.



“For its work in Afghanistan, MSF will not accept financial support from any government and chooses to rely solely on private donations, thus safeguarding its independence from political and military powers,” an MSF statement said.



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