Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Environmental Health

The country’s health care delivery system has been steadily progressing over the last ten years, with an increasing coverage of primary health care services throughout the country. The country has managed to develop its vision, roadmap and policy frameworks that guided its health development drive to extend adequate coverage of basic health service to the majority of the country’s population. Major priorities in the health sector are improve the nutritional status, strengthen human resource management and development, increase equitable access to quality health services, strengthen the stewardship role of MoPH and governance in the health sector, improve health financing, enhance evidence-based decision making, support regulation and standardization of the private sector to provide quality health services, support health promotion and community empowerment, advocate for and promote healthy environments, create an enabling environment for the production and availability of quality pharmaceuticals.

In spite of too many challenges the Ministry of Public Health in the light of the MoPH five years strategic plan 2011-2015, succeeded to develop the National Environmental Health Strategy for 2012- 2015. The strategy focuses on management and leadership, WASH, food safety, radiation safety/protection, environmental hygiene/sanitation, occupational health and house and urban hygiene. The strategy will guide the MoPH and its partners in their work over the next five years.

Access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and air quality

Afghanistan faces a number of basic environmental health (EH) issues, such as unsafe drinking water; inadequate sanitation facilities, drainage and water supply; improper solid and hazardous waste management; chemical contamination; poor air quality and unhygienic food handling at all stages of supply, storage and transport.

Access to safe drinking water has increased over the last few years. 57% of households obtain drinking water from an improved source (urban 82% vs. rural 51%). However, the country has a long way to go in improving sanitation. Only 31% of households have an improved toilet facility, while another 20% do not have toilet facility at all. Less than half (43%) of households in Afghanistan have regular electricity supply.

Various studies have highlighted the gaps between knowledge and practice, in particular where people have acknowledged the need but could not follow recommended hygiene practices due to lack of water or other facilities.

Drinking water treatments rely only on disinfection by chlorination or some basic filters in certain places of the country. The quality of underground water, which has already been reported with contamination of ammonia and nitrate, is also threatened by construction of septic wells, particularly in urban areas.

To date, limited data has been compiled on air pollutant emissions. Preliminary data indicates high amounts of dust and polyaromatic hydrocarbons in the air, which is most likely originated from vehicle exhaust emissions. MoPH estimated that more than 3,000 people may die only in Kabul because of air pollution every year.

Total population (CSO 2012)
Access to improved source of drinking water*    %     
Urban  %
Rural    %
Appropriate treatment of drinking water** %
Population live in households using improved sanitation facilities*  %

Urban  %
Rural    %


Households use a specific place for hand washing*  %

Urban  %
Rural    %

Household with regular electricity supply**  %
     *MICS 2010     **AMS 2010