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March 28, 2020

Afghan Taliban take steps for countering coronavirus threat


March 28, 2020

PESHAWAR: Like the rest of the world, the fast-travelling coronavirus has also scared the Afghan Taliban and they have not only started awareness-raising campaigns for their people but trained members of their “‘medical commission” so that they could provide health services to their fighters, living mostly in remote areas of Afghanistan.

“First of all we advised our people to regularly recite the Holy Quran and offer prayers five times daily and spend time in the name of Allah Almighty and then utilise other options required for solutions of problems,” said the Taliban leader in Afghanistan.

Also, senior Taliban members said they distributed soaps and masks along with pictorial pamphlets among the Afghan people, free of cost, in certain parts of Afghanistan, with instructions from their health workers

asking people to wash their hands frequently and wear masks before leaving their homes or workplaces.

“Initially, we didn’t take it seriously but members of our medical commission then started work on it and trained people, particularly when the virus-infected people in many other countries,” said a senior Taliban leader.

He said the aim of their arranging training sessions to their people was to create awareness among the Taliban leaders and followers about the disease itself and then share the information with others. Pleading anonymity, the Taliban leader said they had a strong network of their health facilities across Afghanistan and established private hospitals, where apart from Taliban, common Afghan people are also offered free health services.

“First we arranged training for our people of our medical commission and then they started training other people in Afghanistan. And we used madrassas, mosques and orchards and open areas across Afghanistan to gather people in small numbers and give them information about coronavirus “, he said.

According to him, they arranged small awareness-raising sessions for their fighters and their commanders in different places and distributed essential material among them.

He said they had also advised the Taliban members to use a piece of cloth or a tissue paper in case they were suffering from flue. “We have particularly stressed our people to go to their nearest medical facility in case they have symptoms such as cough, fever and headache. And with these complications, we asked them to avoid travelling or meeting people,” said the Taliban member.

In their awareness-raising sessions, he said they asked people to regularly wash hands with soap and stay clean.

“We asked them to wear face masks when they go out of their premises and don’t use one mask frequently. Keep your living and working places clean and disinfected and intake fruits and vegetables and get vitamin C ,” said member of Taliban’s medical commission.

Similarly, he said they had designed thousands of pamphlets with awareness material and distributed the same among their commanders and fighters to display them in prominent places so that people can get benefits from them.

He said they had purchased medicines and other equipment “worth millions of dollars” soon after the outbreak of the coronavirus.”We made certain decisions on an emergency basis and sent our teams of health experts to places in Afghanistan which were exposed to the virus.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that they had launched an awareness campaign for their people and established quarantine centres across Afghanistan.

“In our Friday sermons, we particularly used this opportunity to create awareness among our followers and other Afghan people about coronavirus and it’s symptoms and the precautionary measures to avoid this disease,” he said. He claimed they control 70 per cent of the area in Afghanistan and they had set up two quarantine centres in each of the clinics and centres.

The Taliban spokesman said not a single member of their organisation had been infected by the virus. “We have a strong belief in Allah Almighty but at the same time we have to utilise all the available resources,” he said. Taliban released photos to the media in which they are distributing soaps and masks among the Afghan people.