Eric Weerts knows Afghanistan well. This Belgian physiotherapist has carried out numerous missions for the NGO Handicap International for almost 20 years. Last August, he had to leave the country in disaster with the seizure of power by the Taliban. Since then, he returned there in November and saw the deterioration of the situation. Our team met him.
Jacob, an Afghan child, was bitten by a snake 3 years ago. The instability of his country did not allow him to be treated properly: he had to be amputated. The job of his Belgian physiotherapist, Eric Weerts, is to restore his mobility.
Eric Weerts, physiotherapist for the NGO Handicap International with which he has carried out numerous missions in Afghanistan, met our team in Liège to explain what his work on site consists of: “For children, it is very important that there is a follow-up. It is not just a prosthesis at one point in his life, it is all a follow-up, an accompaniment until the end of his life. as we have the experience with the 20,000 other amputees that we have seen in this center since its existence “, he explains.
With the Taliban taking power, access to care more complicated
Eric Weerts knows Afghanistan well, he had to leave the country in disaster last August when the Taliban took power. When he returns in November, only 20% of hospitals are operational, and many workers are unpaid. “The economic situation of the country is that inflation is so high. So your money, when you get paid, loses its value every month with an inflation of 10%. What makes people who are already vulnerable, who are poor, have even less access to cheap food “, details the physiotherapist.
When he is in Afghanistan, this Belgian physiotherapist trains Afghans to provide care on site. More than 50% of these future physiotherapists are women. And that can be a problem … Sometimes the Taliban try to prevent them from coming to work. We must then negotiate, explains Eric Weerts, who told our journalist about the comments made during the negotiations: “We have trained female physiotherapists in the country precisely to open up access and respect your customs since a female physiotherapist can treat a female patient. But if you say that the female physiotherapist can no longer come to the center or cannot no longer work, do you agree that your wife is not being looked after? “. And according to the physiotherapist, it works.
A worsening situation: many Afghans are considering leaving their country
Positive point of the new regime: there are fewer attacks and less control along the roads. But that is not enough to make people forget the problems. “The feedback we have from the Afghans is to say ‘this government is not meeting our aspirations, they had promised us things and they are not responding'”, explicit Eric Weerts.
More and more Afghans are said to be considering leaving their country. An exile complicated by more padlocked borders than before. More useful there than ever, Eric Weerts is returning in February.