‘50-bed Dawlatabd district hospital closes due to Taliban warnings’

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BALKH: Local officials and residents in the northern Balkh province expressed concern about a 50-bed civil hospital in Dawlatabad district of the province that had been closed for an indefinite period due to the Taliban’s death threats and security problems.
Dr. Khalilullah Hekmati, Balkh public health director, confirmed the matter to OrbandNews, saying health services in Dawlatabad District Civil Hospital had been suspended for an unknown period.
“The Taliban have warned that anyone who goes to the hospital will be responsible for his or her own life, and that is the reason people and our colleagues avoid going to the hospital,” Hokmati said, adding that security forces deployed a base in the hospital’s compound.
Since the hospital’s closure, local people have been rendered concerned about the lack of health services in their areas, but the public health director assured them of finding alternative ways to continue assistance to the district’s people.
Hekmati stressed that efforts were underway to move the hospital to a safer place so locals would be able to have continued access to health services.
On the other hand, local people complained about inadequate health services and said that the lousy security situation put them in great trouble.
Dawood, a resident of the district, said that the 50-bed district hospital was shut only for security reasons. War and insecurity claim people’s lives daily, and closure of the hospital is another problem people have to suffer, Ilham, another resident of Dawlatabad, said.
Besides bearing severe economic issues, people are in fear due to continuing violence and they have no place to take their patients for treatment, he added.
On the other hand, security officials in the north have denied allegations that security forces built a military base in Dawlatabad district hospital’s compound.
Mohammad Hanif Rezaei, a spokesman for the 209th Shaheen Military Corps, said that it was a security forces’ policy not to use public places for their bases.
However, Rezaei said that security forces, including the Afghan National Army, were deployed to the hospital only in cases of possible threats and ensuring security.
He said that a base of upraising forces was estabalished in the hospital to ensure security for the center’s personnel and visitors.
Meanwhile, the Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that the Afghan forced turned the hospital into a military base. “The local people want the hospital be shifted to another area because of insecurity here,” he said.
A number of local people who wanted to go unnamed said that the Taliban closed the hospital after security forces frequently visited the healthcare center.
However, the Taliban denied their involvement in the hospital’s closure and said that it was sometimes closed due to clashes with Afghan forces in the area. The group’s spokesman says that the local people agreed to move the hospital to a secure place.
Local people do not comment about the hospital’s relocation but say that there should be continued health services in the district so they would not be obliged to take their patients elsewhere.
Sayed Matin, a resident of the district, said that the Dawlatabad residents didn’t have good economic situation and the warring sides should avoid damaging public facilities, particularly hospitals.
Dawlatabad district hospital is surrounded by the district center, police headquarters and other government organs. Some pictures of the hospital taken by local people and shared with OrbandNews show that the healthcare center is shut.
Dawlatabad district is located 70 kilometers north of Mazar-e-Sharif, capital of Baklh province.