Afghans are giving their hungry children medicines to sedate them - others have sold their daughters and organs to survive, the BBC reported yesterday, noting that in the second winter since the Taliban took over and foreign funds were frozen, millions are a step away from famine in Afghanistan.

Many Afghans reportedly give drugs - alprazolam (tranquilizers usually prescribed to treat anxiety disorders), escitalopram (is used to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic attacks) and sertraline a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin (a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) – to their hungry children so that they feel drowsy.  

Doctors say that when given to young children who do not get adequate nutrition, drugs such as these can cause liver damage, along with a host of other problems like chronic fatigue, sleep and behavior disorders. 

At local pharmacy outside Herat, people reportedly can buy five tablets of the drugs being used for 10 Afghanis (about 10 US cents), or the price of a piece of bread.

Most families are reportedly sharing a few pieces of bread between them each day.

The UN has said a humanitarian "catastrophe" is now unfolding in Afghanistan.

The BBC says a majority of the men in the area outside Herat work as daily wage laborers.  They have been leading difficult lives for years.

But when the Taliban took over last August, with no international recognition for the new de-facto government, foreign funds flowing into Afghanistan were frozen, triggering an economic collapse which left the men with no work on most days.

On the rare day they do find work, they make roughly 100 Afghanis, or just over US$1.00.

People are reportedly being forced to take extreme steps to save their families from hunger.  Some people had surgery to remove their kidney.  For this, they are paid about 27,000 Afghanis (equivalent to US$3,100), most of which go into repaying money they had borrowed to buy food for their families.  

The BBC notes that selling organs for money is not unheard of in Afghanistan.  It used to happen even before the Taliban takeover.  But now, even after making such a painful choice, people are reportedly finding that they still cannot find the means to survive.

Besides, people are reportedly selling their daughters because they have no money to buy food.  

The dignity that people here led their lives with has been broken by hunger, the BBC says.   

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has reportedly seen the rate of admissions at their facilities treating malnutrition across the country increase by as much as 47% this year over the last.

MSF's feeding center in Herat is the only well-equipped malnutrition facility catering not just to Herat, but also to the neighboring provinces of Ghor and Badghis, where malnutrition rates have gone up by 55% over the last year.