8:00—9:00 AM Washington DC time

Sustaining Basic Health Services and COVID-19 Control in Afghanistan


  • Sue Eckert, Senior Associate, Humanitarian Agenda, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Ahmad Wali Rasekh, Head of Performance Management Office, Sehatmandi Project, Afghanistan 
  • Nick Krafft, Former Country Director for Afghanistan, World Bank
  • Diwa Samad, Former Deputy Minister Policy and Plan, Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan


  • Amanda Glassman, Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development (CGD)


Afghanistan is now suffering from the compounded impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a deteriorating humanitarian situation, putting lives and livelihoods at risk. The health care system in Afghanistan is already vulnerable and reliant on foreign aid, but with the World Bank and other organizations freezing health care aid after the Taliban took power in August, questions remain as to how the country will be able to sustain basic health service and keep COVID-19 infections at bay.

What can the World Bank and other donors do and not do during a humanitarian crisis? There is limited public understanding of the scope of support and financing that comes from external sources to the health and education sectors. On the other hand, there is a general lack of guidance from the political levels within multilateral development banks and bilateral development agencies. This makes taking the next step in financing a UN organization or the International Committee of the Red Cross difficult for funders. But the clock is ticking to ensure that health workers and organizations are paid, and commodities are imported in order for basic health services – and COVID-19 prevention and management – continue.

Join CGD for a conversation around the challenge of simultaneously maintaining access and financing of basic health services, and COVID-19 control in Afghanistan. Panelists will discuss what constraints are being faced on the ground and bureaucratically, which approaches could be taken to ensure health services are maintained, and what a model for supporting Afghan people without supporting the Taliban would look like.

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