KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, June 29 (Xinhua) -- "I am thankful to China for building such a hospital decades ago here in Kandahar that today I and many other patients are receiving medical treatment here," said Mohammad Anwar, a suspected COVID-19 virus carrier, in talks with Xinhua.
File photo by Xinhua
According to locals, the hospital was built 45 years ago by China in southern Kandahar as a gift for the people of Afghanistan and it is named after an Afghan former king Mirwais Khan, but its locally known as "Shafakhanai Chinai" or Chinese Hospital, which is the major health facility in the southern region of the war-torn country.
The 600-bed hospital with branches including surgery, heart, neurology and children is the major health center in the country's southern region that receives patients from across Kandahar and the neighboring Zabul, Helmand and Uruzgan provinces.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in February in Afghanistan, the hospital has been dealing with patients infected with COVID-19 in the southern region and has the capacity to test 210 samples of suspected cases per day.
Anwar came from the restive Helmand province a couple of days ago and has been admited to the hospital to recover from the virus.
"I am thankful to China for building such a big hospital in our region but unexpected eruption of COVID-19 has added to its responsibility as persistent war kills and hurts many people everyday in the country," Anwar said.
"The hospital which receives hundreds of patients and war injured now also tests samples of suspected COVID-19 cases," Anwar said.
Some 31,000 COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed in the war-battered Afghanistan and the hospital bears the burden in the restive southern region to test and treat the patients infected with the virus.
Confirming the challenge, head of the hospital Nematullah said that Afghanistan as a militancy-battered country is facing problems in all fields including the health sector.
"Mirwais Hospital is a regional hospital in the country's southern region, it provides health services to all patients including COVID-19 affected people but the number of patients is higher than the capacity of the hospital," Nematullah told Xinhua on Monday.
Since fighting resumes in the country after the winter break, the hospital sometimes receives more patients and injured people than expected, the doctor said.
The hospital has allocated a 23-bed ward for suspected COVID-19 patients but currently there are 30 suspected cases, head of the hospital said, admitting the capacity of the hospital is not enough to treat all patients.
The official also noted that the hospital not only treats COVID-19 but all diseases including heart problems.
Echoing the same viewpoint, a patient Ghulam Hazrat who was waiting for surgery behind operation ward said Shafakhanai Chinai is among the best one in our region, it receives thousands of patients daily but the number of doctors is much less than the number of patients probably due to budget scarcity."
Although the government has renovated the hospital and enhanced its capacity, the hospital is still in need of equipment and capacity building, locals said.
"I am thankful to China for building this hospital. I hope other countries could also provide support to help develop our hospitals as as to provide better health services to patients at this critical stage," Nematullah said.