Coronavirus in Pakistan Photograph:( AFP )
The coronavirus outbreak poses a huge challenge to the already crumbling health infrastructure of the country.
Just about when it seemed that the 40-year-old war would end and Afghanistan may witness some sort of a political settlement, the coronavirus outbreak took the country by surprise.
The outbreak poses a huge challenge to the already crumbling health infrastucture of the country. The pandemic has already claimed 30 lives in the country but the severity of the challenge has not dawned upon the administration.
Afghanistan is not prepared for the pandemic. Kabul's problem is two-fold - first the people did not take the lockdown seriously and then the state could not enforce it - not even in an urban center like the Afghan capital.
The result was the lockdown was a miserable failure in Kabul. In desperation, the state ended up deploying more forces to enforce the measures. The moves may have come too late and Afghanistan doesn't have what it takes to cope with such a crisis.
The health infrastructure is dilapidated, years of war have left the systems in very bad shape and the shutdown is hurting the economy.
High inflation is further eating into the salaries of the middle class citizen. Afghanistan is trying to build capacity at home. The government inaugurated an N95 and PPE suit factory in Kabul recently with great fanfare.
Authorities say the masks will be produced locally but will meet international standards. It's a welcome step, but not nearly enough. It is like a drop in the ocean.
Afghanistan needs one million masks to equip medical workers. It is going to be another very difficult battle.