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NEWS | Sept. 12, 2011

Afghanistan, Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team help Afghans during medical outreach mission

By Staff Sgt. John Zumer , Task Force Duke Public Affairs

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (September 6, 2011) — They came for basic medical screening services; but villagers of Khoni Kawr, Khowst Province, Afghanistan, who turned out in large numbers Sep. 5, were able to share numerous other concerns affecting their lives with Afghan government officials.

The medical outreach mission was made possible by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan which partnered doctors from its Ministry of Health with medical specialists from the Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team. Organizers hoped villagers would turn out for rudimentary medical screenings which would prevent greater complications down the road, if left undetected or untreated.

“We saw about 50 patients today,” said U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Marshall Faulds, a native of San Clemente, Calif., and a physician’s assistant for the Khowst PRT.

Common afflictions treated included minor ailments, burns, or light abrasions, and it was believed by organizers and Khoni Kawr patients that at least a year had elapsed since any similar visit and medical outreach mission had been conducted.

“They (the patients) weren’t demanding, but I expected more adults than we actually saw,” said Faulds.

Security around the village and the treatment site, crucial for attracting villagers to GIRoA efforts to reach their citizens, was provided by the Afghan National Police and elements of the Fort Knox,  Ky.-based 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke.

Dr. Shir Mohammed, a doctor of internal medicine with the Afghan Ministry of Health said, “We treat what we can here.”

More serious illnesses such as Down’s Syndrome, Hepatitis B, and intellectual and developmental disabilities were also evaluated, said Mohammed.

“All we can do is advise them to go the outlying clinics like the one in Khowst City,” said Mohammed, adding that exceptions can be made for cases of trauma or those requiring immediate surgery at nearby Forwarding Operating Base Salerno.

A common complaint heard from the villagers, according to Mohammed, was that everyday needs such as schools, electricity and security were also needed besides the medical care provided at the village outreach.

Many of those additional concerns raised were beyond the scope of the Khowst PRT and the others who had journeyed to Khoni Kawr this day, but initial feedback revealed the medical outreach as time well spent.

“It means good things for the peace and security of the village, said Kumran, a local villager, who brought his son for treatment.

Organizers hope that additional partnership between GIRoA and the Khowst PRT will allow for future visits, not only to Khoni Kawr, but nearby communities. Based on one happy customer, they shouldn’t be lacking for new friends and faces.  

“I’m going to bring more patients after I leave today,” Kumran added.