Your Excellency Second Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danesh,
Your Excellency Minister of Public Health, Dr. Firozuddin Firoz,
Your Excellency Minister of Public Works, Engineer Mahmoud Baligh,
Your Excellency, Governor Mohamed Tahir Zohair,
Your Excellency Ambassador Kenneth Neufeld,
Your Excellency Ambassador François Richier,
ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you, governor Zohair for your very warm welcome to Bamyan. Today is a momentous day as we open the new Bamyan Provincial Hospital. The Aga Khan Development Network started work in the Bamyan Province in 2003. At that time health service delivery at Bamyan Hospital was provided from a 35 bed facility with 72 staff working mainly out of tents. There was no Essential Package of Hospital Services, nor a Masterplan for the Hospital to guide its development, very limited equipment, medicines and consumables, and there was a great shortage of qualified health staff.
Major changes have occurred since then; at the old premises the hospital was upgraded and expanded, more and better qualified staff were brought in, training programmes commenced, new equipment was installed and the hospital became well-stocked with medicines and consumables.
The investments have had an impact: the volumes at the hospital increased and performance improved. The number of admissions went up from 1,900 in 2004 to more than11,000 in 2016, the outpatient attendances from 43,000 to 175,000, deliveries from 100 to more than 3,000, and major operations from 150 to 600.
Similarly, the hospital has seen a good reduction in waiting time for the patient to see a doctor, and in quality indicators such as the number of inpatient falls, infections acquired in the hospital during admission, medical errors and needle stick injuries and a steadily-declining average length of stay – these are all signs of improving clinical quality. In 2012 the Bamyan Provincial Hospital received ISO-9001:2008 certification, the first and with Faizabad Hospital in Badakhshan the only Provincial Hospitals in Afghanistan with this ‘quality’ accreditation.
Next to investing in infrastructure and equipment, Bamyan hospital management, supported by the community hospital board, has been able and continues to invest in training and capacity building of the now more than 200 staff, and the Aga Khan Health Services, Afghanistan with its partners pays much attention to the importance of continuing education for medical, nursing and allied health staff, as well as management and support staff.
The telemedicine or e-health link, established in 2009, also plays an important role. It creates the opportunity for the staff at Bamyan hospital to connect to the FMIC in Kabul and the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi; these extend support and advice, build capacity and enable an exchange of medical data and information for analysis. Enabling this technology to come to Bamyan has made and continues to make a significant impact to the quality improvements in health service delivery at the hospital. To date in Bamyan, more than 9,000 patients have benefitted from telemedicine and more than 4,000 Afghan medical personnel have participated in diagnostic and training opportunities facilitated by this link.
However, Bamyan Provincial Hospital became in a way victim of its own success: the old premises became too small to cope with the increasing number of patients and there was no possibility to expand further. We are grateful to be able today to officially open this well-designed and constructed141 bed hospital on this site gifted by the Bamyan municipality.
The new hospital is state of the art when it comes to functionality, but it is also designed to be highly energy efficient and structurally safe and seismically resilient. The building also has some unique architectural features – the external finishing using traditional mud construction that makes the hospital blend in so well with the natural environment by applying new innovative ‘rammed earth’ technologies to make it durable; the central Charbagh, the views of the external spaces with the wonderful views of the mountains from all corners of the building and creating a sense of being connected to nature while being inside; the art work that you see on the walls using local historical motives and the 400 KW solar plant that provides for the majority of the electrical supply of the hospital.
I want to thank all who created this beautiful facility on time and within budget; hospital planners CPG, architects ARCOP, contractors Raqim, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat construction management team, and the steering committee that judiciously oversaw the project.
I must make special mention of the important Canadian support, through Global Affairs Canada, that allowed us to build this hospital. Global Affairs Canada has been one of the AKDN's long-standing partners, supporting the establishment of the Aga Khan University School of Nursing in Pakistan some three decades ago, and now supporting so much of our work in maternal, newborn, and child health as well as health systems strengthening here in Afghanistan, and in other parts of Central and South Asia.
Phase 2 of the hospital construction, including the installation of the solar plant, was made possible through the Health Action Plan for Afghanistan or HAPA programme, that brought another longstanding collaborator of AKDN; France, through the Agence Française de Développement. Thank you, AFD.
I would also like to acknowledge the thousands of Canadians who contributed to Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s fundraising efforts for the construction of the hospital.
Let me end by expressing our warmest gratitude to all of you and especially to the Government of Afghanistan: President Ashraf Ghani, first Lady Rula Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdulla Abdulla whom I met this morning, Vice President Sarwar Danesh, Minister of Public Health, Dr. Firozuddin Firoz, Minister of Public Works, Engineer Mahmoud Baligh, Governor Mohamed Tahir Zuhair and many others for their support to AKDN and to our staff, that has made it possible for us to play a role towards improving the health of the people of Bamyan province.
The way you have taken on the responsibility of the stewardship role and guided us in the implementation of the Essential Hospital Services Package for Bamyan Hospital, the Basic Package of Health services in remote areas of Afghanistan, and the Community Midwifery and Nursing Education Programmes in three provinces has truly been exemplary.
The Aga Khan Development Network itself remains dedicated to working with the Government of Afghanistan and through it, to building the quality of life of its great people. Through investments in the private sector – telecommunications, hospitality, tourism and microfinance – as well as concurrent investments in the social and cultural sectors – health systems strengthening; health professionals training including post-graduate medical education and diploma level nursing through the Aga Khan University; primary, secondary education and adult literacy programmes; facilitating village community organisations; the restoration of the Bagh-e-Babur gardens and the urban area around it. Through these multiple interventions, the Network seeks to harness and influence the various dimensions of human life such that together, they chart a course for growth while building social protection.