20 children die in Balkh amid surge in pneumonia cases
More than 20 children in Balkh province died from pneumonia last month, which provincial health officials attribute to the extremely cold weather.
Afghan voice agency (AVA)_Officials noted a marked increase in pneumonia cases among children this winter, stating that 326 had been hospitalized in December.
“1,679 children were hospitalized in Qaws (December 2020) of which 326 patients suffered from pneumonia; that shows a 20 percent increase in cases,” said Nawroz Seberi, the head of the Children’s Department of the Balkh Public Health Directorate.
Late last month, Save the Children warned that more than 300,000 Afghan children face freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness, in the worst case death, without proper winter clothing and heating.
The organization’s country director in Afghanistan, #Chris_Nyamandi, said in a statement that while schools are closed until March in the coldest parts of the country, this is a serious blow because often the classroom is the only source of warmth for children during winter – where temperatures can plummet to below minus 27 degrees Celsius in parts of the country.
“The situation is bleak for children forced to live in camps in places like #Balkh province. It is already very cold in this northern province with overnight temperatures as low as minus ten. But it will get much colder before March,” said Nyamandi last month.
“Here, and in camps in other parts of Afghanistan, plastic sheeting and the clothes they wear are often all that separates them from the #freezing_temperatures.
“For thousands of children the Afghan winter is a time of grim survival,” he added.