Kabul, Afghanistan, 8 April 2006 – President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, French First Lady Mme. Bernadette Chirac and His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), today inaugurated the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC), an international-class, paediatric hospital founded by the French charitable organisations La Chaîne de l’Espoir and Enfants Afghans.
The FMIC, formerly known as the Mother and Child Hospital, was built by La Chaîne de l’Espoir, and its Afghanistan programme division, Enfants Afghans, on land donated by the Government of Afghanistan. The hospital was financed by French private sector and individual donors. At the request of the partners, the facility will be managed by AKDN, which operates 23 other health care facilities in Afghanistan, including community-based clinics and a regional hospital in Bamyan.
The FMIC will be a private not-for-profit facility where a portion of revenues generated and funds raised from donations will create a Social Welfare Fund to subsidise health care for the poor. All four partners will contribute.
Afghanistan has one of the world’s highest infant and maternal mortality rates. One child in four does not reach the age of five and every thirty minutes a woman in Afghanistan dies from pregnancy-related causes. The average life expectancy of 42 years is one of the lowest in the world.
The FMIC was completed and opened in 2005 and is in the process of becoming fully operational as staff are recruited. The facility specialises in paediatric care and aims to provide accessible and cost-effective quality medical care to Afghans, particularly children, with continuing financial support from the French and Afghanistan governments, La Chaîne de l’Espoir-Enfants Afghans, AKDN and private donors.
It provides modern diagnostic, medical and surgical techniques and offers in-patient and out-patient services in paediatric medicine and surgery, cardiology, and orthopaedics. In addition to 70 beds for admissions, the hospital has 15 intensive care beds, eight recovery room beds and 10 out-patient clinic rooms. It also has a well-equipped laboratory and operating theatres. Its diagnostic and treatment technologies are state-of-the-art, including CT scanning, general radiology, ultrasound, and a well-stocked pharmacy.
The inauguration of this advanced medical facility follows the establishment of a four-way public-private partnership agreement among the governments of France and Afghanistan, the AKDN and La Chaîne de l’Espoir-Enfants Afghans.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the four partners by the French Foreign Minister, M. Philippe Douste-Blazy; the Afghan Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah; the Director of Diplomatic Affairs of the Ismaili Imamat, Dr. Shafik Sachedina; and the Founder and President of La Chaîne de l’Espoir-Enfants Afghans, Professor Alain Deloche.
Under the partnership agreement, the French and Afghan governments as well as AKDN will provide financial support for administrative staff and medical training, and La Chaîne de l’Espoir will help to bring top-ranked surgeons, nurses and medical technicians from France, Europe and North America to practise at the hospital on rotating assignments. The AKDN will guide its future expansion up to 250 beds on adjacent land provided by the Government of Afghanistan.
The Institute will be an important national diagnostic and treatment referral centre for regional hospitals that are being established in Afghanistan under the government’s long-term health care development strategy. It will also be a training centre for nursing and paramedical staff and will serve as a role model for hospital care in Afghanistan. The new agreement will enable the hospital to grow over time beyond its initial focus on paediatrics, making possible the delivery of medical care to male and female adults and children, including maternal care, obstetrics, neonatology, oncology and other general and specialised services.
The FMIC also will eventually become a centre of excellence for medical education in the country. It will work closely with Kabul Medical University, the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi, and the universities of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Caen in France.
The AKU, founded in 1983 as Pakistan’s first private university, and Aga Khan Health Services, both agencies of the AKDN, will manage the hospital and support its gradual expansion and eventual development into a full-service health care and medical teaching facility. Reliance upon expatriate staff will be gradually reduced as training programmes for Afghans are completed.
The Karachi-based Aga Khan University, including the AKU teaching hospital and the School of Nursing, supports medical research and education not only in Pakistan, where it is an established leader. It also delivers a range of medical, nursing and community health programmes in Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Uganda and Syria. In Afghanistan, AKU has been delivering nurse training for four years and its curriculum has been adopted as the national standard and translated into Dari and Pashto. Afghan physicians associated with the FMIC will have an opportunity to receive training at the AKU Hospital in Karachi as well as at hospitals in France.
Aga Khan University
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Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
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La Chaîne de l’Espoir
La Chaîne de l'Espoir was founded in 1988 by Professor Alain Deloche with the aim of providing access to medical and surgical services in countries where these facilities do not exist. In November 2001, La Chaîne de l’Espoir launched its Enfants Afghans Programme aimed at bringing sustainable medical assistance to those most in need. Built with financial support of a number of French donors, the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC), previously known as the Mother and Child Hospital, opened in summer 2005. To date, La Chaine de l’Espoir has treated over 7,000 children around the world by bringing together specialists from France in the fields of cardiology, cardiovascular disease, orthopaedics, abdominal and paediatric surgery as well as plastic surgery and neurosurgery. The hospital in Kabul is the third specialised facility founded by the organisation, the other two being in Cambodia and Mozambique.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN)
AKDN was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, 49 th Hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims. It is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$300 million. The AKDN began its activities in Afghanistan in 1995 with the provision of humanitarian assistance and support for refugee resettlement and this has since grown to include major activities in support of social, cultural and economic development.
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