(PORTLAND, ORE. - Aug. 5, 2008) A Portland volunteer with Medical Teams International says Afghan medical providers are taking a heavy hit in the country’s ongoing civil conflict.
Years of violence have kept an entire generation of medical workers from gaining an education, says nurse Patrick Reedy, who returned from Afghanistan this past weekend. Additionally, hundreds of seasoned medical workers have fled the country due to the chronic instability.
“The Afghan nurses and doctors are 25 years behind international standards,” explains Reedy, who trained nurses in the High Dependency Unit (similar to ICU) at Kabul International University. “It was especially frustrating because the hospital staff are eager to learn and extremely bright. But without qualified teachers, textbooks or facilities, they have no way to acquire updated medical skills.”
Violence in Afghanistan, especially in the capital city of Kabul, is escalating according to a coalition of relief agencies in the region. More than 260 civilians were killed in July, making it the deadliest month since 2001, reports the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief.
“We are very intentional and vigilant in ensuring that our volunteers are secure in challenging humanitarian aid situations,” explains Joe DiCarlo, director of emergency relief at Medical Teams International. “We work with local staff and long-term aid partners that are familiar with high-risk situations and who take every precaution to them safe. Medical Teams International is careful to weigh the need for our assistance in areas like Kabul and Darfur against the dangers of working in these regions.”
For Reedy, it was an experience this Oregon Health & Science University nurse won’t easily forget. “The Afghan people have suffered so much. They are beaten down from the violence. It is a hard, hard life. Patients I thought were 75-years-old, were only in their 20s.”
Medical Teams International began working in Afghanistan in November 2001, overseeing an immunization campaign, mobile medical care and food distribution. Recent programs focus on medical training at CURE International Hospital and Tanghi Saidan Community Center, sponsored by partners CURE International and Morning Star Development. To support this and other programs, visit our donation page.