Where We Work

Afghanistan

UNCERTAINTY IN AFGHANISTAN

Even as uncertainty about the future grips the nation, our staff throughout the country remains committed to providing lifesaving medical services and training. You can help.

International Medical Corps was established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses to address the critical need for medical care in war-torn Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Over the decades, in the face of continued conflict, we have remained, delivering medical care, healthcare-related services and training, as Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most complex humanitarian emergencies.

In 2024, an estimated 23.7 million people will likely be in need of humanitarian assistance, as the country enters its fourth consecutive year of drought-like conditions and the third year of crippling economic decline, all while still reeling from the effects of decades of conflict and recurrent natural disasters.

Despite these challenges, International Medical Corps continues to support Afghanistan’s healthcare needs. Our staff—the vast majority of whom are hired locally—continue working throughout the country to improve the quality of life and health status of those we serve by providing medical services and training.

Population

40 

million

Life Expectancy

53/56 

male/female

Infant mortality rate

101.3 

per 1,000 live births

The Challenges

Ongoing Conflict & Natural Disasters

Violence has continued to increase across Afghanistan

Weak Health Systems

There are only about two physicians per 8,000 people.

Poor Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Progress has been made in recent years to provide rural populations with greater access to improved drinking water sources, but much still needs to be done

Our Response

Emergency Response & Primary Healthcare

International Medical Corps provides primary and community healthcare and lifesaving medical services in Balkh, Faryab, Kabul, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Paktika and Sar-e-Pul provinces. In 2023, we provided 644,011 health consultations, including emergency trauma-care services, to people affected by conflict and natural disasters. In addition, we offered reproductive health services—including antenatal care, delivery assistance, postnatal care and family planning— to 48,374 women. We provided lifesaving curative and preventive nutrition services to 203,588 children under 5 and 14,346 pregnant and lactating women. International Medical Corps supports one hospital in Balkh province, providing lifesaving secondary-level health services, medicines and medical supplies.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)

International Medical Corps provides MHPSS services to help people and communities rebuild social structures after an emergency or critical event. We train MHPSS counsellors to identify mental health needs and provide services through our mobile teams, health sub-centers and hospitals. Training includes mental health case management, psychological first aid (PFA), interpersonal therapy and problem management. Counsellors offer both group and individual counselling to those exposed to distressing life experiences—such as armed conflict, natural disasters and displacement—and refer people with severe mental health conditions to appropriate health facilities. We also train medical doctors in the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) to expand care for mental, neurological and substance-use disorders in non-specialised settings.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programmes

International Medical Corps provides WASH services to internally displaced persons, returnees and host communities in Balkh, Faryab, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Paktika and Sar-e-Pul provinces. In 2023, International Medical Corps improved access to WASH services for 229,061 people across the eastern, northern and southeastern provinces of Afghanistan. Our teams constructed 20 community-based solar-powered water supply systems and rehabilitated 12 water supply systems and 214 community-based boreholes and wells, delivering clean water to more than 77,000 people. We also provided 6,000 people with access to hygienic latrines by rehabilitating or constructing 24 flush toilets near schools, health facilities and communities. Our teams distributed NFIs—including dignity, hygiene, water and winterisation kits—to 31,097 families. We provided hygiene promotion sessions to 228,941 people and distributed 56,808 bars of soap and 15,396 chlorine bottles to families in need. In 2023, we responded to a catastrophic earthquake in Herat province, providing MHPSS services and distributing winterisation kits, including blankets, to 1,470 people. We conducted PFA training for 179 staff members from various international and local non-governmental organisations, enabling them to provide MHPSS services to those in need.

Protection Programmes

International Medical Corps works to discourage attitudes and behaviours that contribute to protection incidents in Afghanistan. We also use targeted social- and behaviour-change activities, such as community dialogues and awareness sessions about protection and other issues—including mother and child health, vaccination and human rights—to achieve this goal and reduce the stigma surrounding survivors. We provide protection services, including psychosocial support (PSS) and counselling services, in Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Dikundi, Faryab, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kunduz and Samangan provinces. We ensure that medical and psychosocial support (PSS) services are available to survivors and that they receive life-skills and basic vocational training to increase their resilience. We also provide PSS services through mobile PSS teams integrated with mobile health and nutrition teams and provide protection services— including child protection—through our children and family social centres and community well-being groups. We provide parents and caregivers with parenting-skills training, and support children through recreational activities and child-protection case management. In 2023, we provided protection services, including psychosocial support, to 144,998 people. Our health educators work to increase the general knowledge of protection issues and the services available to address them. We engage with influential groups—including elders, school principals and religious leaders—to organise community dialogues. The teams also work closely with key actors— including local health facility staff, community focal points and MHPSS centres in each province—to protect anonymity and arrange discrete referrals. We identify one male and one female in each community who become focal points and facilitate referrals for our services.

Our Impact

644,011
health consultations in 2023
203,588
children under 5 received lifesaving healthcare services

Resources

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Situation Reports

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Help Save Lives in Afghanistan