Even today, 10 percent of children die before the age of five. An Afghan woman has a 1 in 52 chance of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth. These conditions disproportionately affect remote, rural areas, where health facilities are often inadequate or do not exist at all.
The case for upgrading the provincial Hospital in Bamyan was clear. When the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) took responsibility for the operations of the Bamyan Provincial Hospital in 2004, medical staff at the Hospital’s old facility were struggling to meet the health needs of the community.
Through a public-private partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, AKHS undertook the challenge of upgrading the Hospital to meet Afghanistan’s Essential Package of Hospital Services.
The old Hospital was upgraded and expanded. New equipment was installed and a stock of medicines was secured. Training programmes for staff started.
The staff and services at the Hospital steadily improved, through upgrades to training and equipment under the management of AKHS. The 35-bed facility – of which 15 beds were originally in tents – grew to accommodate 100 beds and expanded to services such as diagnostics and surgery.
Over the course of little over a decade, the number of admissions to the old Bamyan Hospital had risen from 1,900 in 2004 to more than 11,000 in 2016. Outpatient attendances had increased from 43,000 to 175,000; deliveries from 100 to more than 3,000; and the number of major operations from 150 to more than 600. It was clear that the hospital needed to expand.
However, expansion of the existing Hospital had its limits. As a response to the clear need for a purpose-built facility, the local Bamyan government allocated 6.4 acres for a new Hospital to be built on the outskirts of town.
Construction began in 2013, led by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, which specialises in ecologically friendly and seismic-resistant construction. The new facility cost US$22.8 million (30.3 million CAD) to build, of which US$17 million (23 million CAD) was funded by the Government of Canada. Aga Khan Foundation Canada contributed US$3.2 million (4.3 million CAD) to the construction, and the Government of France donated US$2.3 million (3 million CAD). In October 2016, the Hospital services moved from the old to the new premises.
The new 141-bed, state-of-the-art Hospital is designed to be structurally safe, seismic-resistant and highly energy-efficient. The Hospital’s innovative “rammed earth” construction was designed to be both durable and to blend in with the environment. Rammed earth also provides for better insulation.
Over half of the new Hospital’s power is supplied by solar panels located on a hilltop behind the Hospital, on a piece of land donated by the Bamyan government.