Health statistics for Afghanistan paint a grim picture. One child in ten does not reach the age of five. One woman dies every two hours from pregnancy-related causes. In some districts, there is one doctor for 50,000 people. Some large districts do not even have one medical doctor.
To improve health care in Afghanistan, senior representatives from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and World Health Organization (WHO) visited the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children (FMIC) in September 2020. FMIC, a non-governmental tertiary teaching hospital run through an innovative four-way partnership between the Government of Afghanistan, the Government of France, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the French NGO, La Chaîne de l’Espoir, is managed by the Aga Khan University.
The tour of FMIC’s facilities included the Covid-19 treatment centre, which was put in place when Covid-19 was at its peak in the region. The building, which had been used for academic purposes, was converted to a Covid-19 treatment facility during the pandemic in order to ensure that the main hospital remained a safe haven for general patients.
The Covid-19 testing centre, which was the first non-government COVID testing facility to be approved in Afghanistan (established in partnership with MoPH, WHO and FMIC) was also on the tour. The main hospital building, including emergency, radiology, laboratory, OPD, Neonatal Care Unit, IPD, Adult Inpatient Ward, Mothers’ Wing, ICU, and Cath lab, was also toured. A visit to the technical and support service areas such as the pharmacy, cafeteria, kitchen, laundry and warehouse were also included.
The Ministry of Public Health delegation included HE Dr Jawad Osmani, Minister of Public Health; Dr Zamlami Masoom, Advisor to the first Vice President; Dr Abdullah Fahim, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Public Health; Dr Mohibullah Zeer, DG Curative Medicine; Dr Wafa, Head of ICU project; Dr Ahmadzai, Director Planning and Legislation; and a team of around 20 experts and consultant advisors from MoPH.
The delegation from WHO included Dr Richard Brennan, WHO Emergency Director from the Regional Office based in Cairo; Dr Rik Peeperkorn, WHO Representative for Afghanistan; and Dr David Lai, Cluster Coordinator WHO Regional Office. The guests were escorted by HE Sheherazade Hirji, AKDN Diplomatic Representative in Afghanistan and FMIC Board Director; Mr Aziz Jan, CEO FMIC; and senior management of AKDN and FMIC.