Bibi Anisa has been serving as a nurse for almost 40 years at the Jalalabad Regional Hospital in Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan.
Anisa along with 11 other female nurses are working in the female surgical ward and putting themselves at risk to help others during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, most of Bibi Anisa’s colleagues and people whom she works with at the hospital, got the virus at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, including herself. She had to self-isolate for weeks to completely recover.
“There is the chance of getting the virus again and even being a person above the age of 60 makes me higher risk, but I will never regret being a nurse and will always continue to serve others. It gives me happiness and a proud feeling to be a female nurse who can help other women who feel comfortable with me, compared to a male nurse, while they recover from a sickness,” said Bibi Anisa.
To date, over 115,000 people have been displaced by conflict in Afghanistan this year of whom more than 29,000 are in eastern Afghanistan. The ongoing conflict in the country continues to take a toll on civilians causing deaths and injuries combined with the COVID-19 outbreak has created an even greater demand for health services and healthcare workers in the east. Health workers such as Bibi Anisa, are also at risk of attack.
Deliberate assaults on health care in Afghanistan have increased overall since 2017; 18 incidents impacting healthcare personnel and facilities were recorded in the first quarter of 2020 alone. People in Afghanistan are already unable to access healthcare services due to ongoing movement restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19; a continuation of attacks on health facilities will further increase the proportion of the population denied access to health care.
Dedicated health care workers like Bibi Anisa are playing an important role to save people’s lives and are real-life heroes.