Symposium on the future of Afghanistan’s health system

On the 16th of November 2021, HealthNet TPO and KIT will host an online symposium on the future of Afghanistan’s health system. We invite you to join this discussion on the progress made in Afghanistan thus far and what the Dutch government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and knowledge partners can do to provide both immediate and long term solutions.

Along with a number of NGOs, funded by the World Bank and other international donors, both KIT and HealthNet TPO have worked in Afghanistan since 2002 to improve healthcare services. Between 2002 and 2016, the number of functioning health facilities increased five-fold in Afghanistan.

However, with the withdrawal of the international forces from Afghanistan and subsequent takeover by the Taliban in August, there is now a high risk that these gains will be lost. The hurried withdrawal of diplomatic and UN staff by many countries and the mass exodus of trained personnel, has left the system on the brink of collapse.

“The health system in Afghanistan is in a critical situation. Women and children, the most vulnerable group, face catastrophic challenges gaining access to basic healthcare,” said Dr Abdul Majeed Siddiqi, former head of mission for HealthNet TPO in Afghanistan, and panellist at the event. “The international community should come up with an innovative approach, to avoid disaster and ensure equal access to essential healthcare, especially in remote areas and for the most vulnerable people,” he added.  

To prevent a complete collapse of the health system and the loss of decades of progress, it is imperative that the Dutch government, the European Union, and other international partners step in to provide the support needed to fill in the current leadership void.

This symposium will convene a number of key Afghan voices along with reflections from Dutch and international players. Speakers will provide a brief overview of the major health improvements accomplished in the past 20 years in Afghanistan and will highlight some of the pressing challenges currently experienced in health service delivery at the moment.

A group of experienced panellists will also discuss a pragmatic way forward to ensure that 20 years of health gains are not reversed.

Our panellists include:

  • Pashtoon Azfar Zyaee, Founder and Advisor to the Afghan Midwives Association, which was established in Afghanistan in 2005 to give voice to midwives and regulate midwifery programmes in the country.
  • Marriët Schuurman, Director Stabilisation and Humanitarian Assistance, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Dutch Human Rights’ Ambassador. She was formerly assigned as the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace, and Security
  • Dr. Ahmad Shah Salehi, Former Advisor to the Afghan Government. Dr Salehi is an Afghan public health specialist, health economist, and a senior researcher. He has undertaken important positions in the ministry of public health of Afghanistan such as senior advisor to the minister of public health, head of international relations, head of grant and contract management unit, and head of health economics and financing.
  • Dr. Mohamed Ali Kamil, Program Area Manager, Emergency Operations in the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean at WHO.
  • Dr. Abdul Majeed Siddiqi, Medical doctor with a masters degree in health system management from London University. He has 20 years experience leading national and international NGOs, as the chairperson on the board of an Alliance of NGOs in Afghanistan, and as an advisor to the Minister of Public Health. He was the Head of Mission of HealthNet TPO Afghanistan for more than 15 years.
  • Dr Nasratullah Ansari, Sexual and reproductive health and rights and maternal and newborn health expert, independent consultant in the Netherlands. He is a former country director of Jhpiego-Johns Hopkins University in Afghanistan.

The event

This will be interactive event, where attendees will have the opportunity to share their experiences and expertise navigating similar fragile settings.

Date: 16th November 2021

Time: 15:30 to 17:15

Location: KIT Royal Tropical Institute, Mauritskade 63, 1092 AD Amsterdam, The Netherlands *

* This event will be in-person with an opportunity to view the proceedings online. It will be in accord with the Covid-19 guidelines recommended by the Dutch Government.