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Interview with Deutsche Welle Radio Regarding Health Services in Afghanistan

July 10, 2018

As it is said, the situation of healthcare services in Afghanistan is very unfair, and specifically in the country’s provinces and remote areas, the services are a drop in the ocean. This issue has been pointed out by Dr. Yahya Wardak the director of Afghanic Organiza­tion in an interview with my colleague Abdul Bari Hakim. In his interview, Dr. Wardak talks about a program started as a contribution to tackling the issue with support of German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development as well as through clinical partnership. Here is the complete interview:

Abdul Bari Hakim: Dr. Wardak, recently you have given attention to health sector in Afghanistan in the scope of a health program of Germany, called clinical partnership; please tell us more about what this program is like.

Dr. Yahya Wardak: It is a joint program among medical clinics and hospitals located in Germany and those based in Afghanistan. In accordance with it, visits to each other’s country will be exchanged between German and Afghan medical doctors and healthcare staff. They are going to collaboratively evaluate the problems and challenges of the health services in Afghanistan, figure out solutions for them as well as implement the solutions. This program will be conducted by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development along with another foundation.

Abdul Bari Hakim: As you have spent more time in Afghanistan and have more information about the health services in the country, what have you considered as a big shortage in the sector of health services?

Dr. Yahya Wardak: There are numerous shortcomings in the health sector. The services offered in distant provinces of Afghanistan does not suffice, however in big cities such as in Kabul, a great deal of services are offered, yet their quality remains at lower levels. The services are not offered for the purpose of dealing with the health problems of Afghans. As in the past, there are small business-oriented, traditional exam rooms or a number of specialty hospitals, to which twenty to a hundred patients refer on a daily basis. It is needed to establish clinics which could take care of patients and serve them. Since years, we have been working on establishing such a model.

Abdul Bari Hakim: To be concise, as the Clinical Partnership program has started by a German foundation in Afghanistan and you are closely cooperating with it, in which sectors will it contribute to Afghanistan.

Dr. Yahya Wardak: We currently support a clinic or we can call it a polyclinic which has been established in the west of Kabul city. In one year, five or six medical doctors from Germany and Sweden have visited the clinic. They have evaluated the clinic’s situation, the doctors’ behavior with their patients, the laboratory, pharmacy, medicine and all other relevant aspects, and based on the evaluation, they provide them instructions as well as trainings.

Last week, I traveled to Afghanistan accompanied by a German doctor as well as a specialist of pharmacy. We spent a week in the clinic and evaluated it. We conducted a training to the clinic’s doctors and other personnel and also instructed them how to enhance the clinic’s overall system and the services.

In Kabul, there is another hospital called Irene Salimi Children Hospital which is also supported in this respect by a clinic from Germany.

Abdul Bari Hakim: As a last question, you may better know that the healthcare services delivery in Afghanistan is very unfair. We occasionally receive reports, based on which we can say that this vital sector in Afghanistan is almost totally business-oriented. It means that rich people can receive treatment at advanced clinics or health centers, while ordinary, poor people do not have access to advanced treatments. Does this program which is carried out by German institutions take this point into consideration, and will it provide such facilities from which the poor people will benefit?

Dr. Yahya Wardak: It is a good question. You are right; it is a big problem which still exists in Afghanistan and even in the capital city of Kabul. The clinic I mentioned has been established in an area in the west of Kabul where most of the residents are poor. This issue has been considered since its establishment. In this community, internal immigrants form Paghman district of Kabul as well as Logar, Ghazni and Wardak provinces also live, most of whom are relatively poor. The clinic is located in their vicinity, that is the health services are made easily accessible to them against lower fees. So, this point is given attentions to. Also, the trainings that we conduct in this clinic are for the purpose of the people’s welfare because the clinic’s staff including doctors, nurses, midwives, and vaccinators will remain as well-trained professionals in the community and will serve the poor residents. The trainings that we conduct are not carried out for example in a hotel where people may come from different places, rather we provide on-the-job trainings, meaning that we observe the staff in their workplace, encourage them for what they do in a good manner, as well as instruct them regarding what they do in a different, incorrect way in comparison to the way services are offered here in Germany. It will play a significant role in the enhancement of the services quality. We may extend this cooperation to other clinics, or they may take advantages of these practices as a model.

Abdul Bari Hakim: Thank you Mr. Yahya Wardak.