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A family member stands beside a COVID-19 patient at the Muhammed Ali Jinnah hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, in June. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

Afghanistan's health system is "on the brink of collapse" due to international funding cuts since the Taliban took over the country, World Health Organization officials said Wednesday.

The big picture: Nine of Afghanistan's 37 COVID-19 hospitals have closed and "all aspects" of the country's pandemic response have declined, including testing and vaccination, per a statement from WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus following his visit to the capital, Kabul, where he met with Taliban leaders.

  • Measles outbreaks are spreading and the country's polio eradication efforts are at risk due to the funding cuts.
  • Afghanistan "faces an imminent humanitarian catastrophe," Tedros warns.

State of play: "Cuts in donor support to the country's largest health project, Sehatmandi, has left thousands of health facilities without funding for medical supplies and salaries for health staff," said Tedros in a joint statement with Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the WHO's regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

  • "Many of these facilities have now reduced operations or shut down, forcing health providers to make hard decisions on who to save and who to let die," the statement notes. "Only 17% of all Sehatmandi health facilities are now fully functional."

Meanwhile, a report from the UN's World Food Program found only 5% of households in Afghanistan have enough food to eat every day.

What to watch: Martin Griffiths, the United Nations undersecretary for emergency relief, announced Wednesday that he's releasing $45 million from an emergency fund in an effort to help prevent Afghanistan's health care system from collapsing.

Go deeper

Health Care Council pushes to improve diversity

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Nashville Health Care Council this week announced a call to action in hopes of improving diversity, equity and inclusion within the industry.

Why it matters: Health care is Nashville's largest economic engine, but over the last year there has been a recognition within the industry that it needs to increase opportunities for underrepresented people.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.