U.S. Forces Afghanistan
February 19, 2009
Release Number 20091902-01
Internship injects the right prescription for Afghans
BAGRAM, Afghanistan - An Afghan citizen holds his daughter after receiving treatment at the Egyptian Field Hospital. The Egyptian Field Hospital has an open clinic for Afghan citizens to receive free medical care.
BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Egyptian Col. Ehab Foad, an ophthalmology consultant, checks a patient’s eye for cataracts and other abnormalities at the Egyptian Field Hospital. The Egyptian Field Hospital offers medical services for Afghan citizens.
KABUL, Afghanistan - Opportunities for better health care continue to grow for Afghans with the assistance of the United States, Republic of Korea and Egyptian medical personnel through the International Medical Mentorship Training and Internship Program.
The Alliance nations strive to enhance the Afghan Ministry of Public Health’s goals of establishing their own health care system and have developed two programs to aid Afghanistan in seeing a dream become reality.
"The goal is to give students an opportunity to see all the factors that it takes to manage an effective hospital," added Army Maj. Maureen Nolen, coordinator for a two-week Medical Mentorship Program. "We work with and build on the education and training in the various ANA and ANP facilities."
While initially, the two-week class was targeted specifically to the Afghan National Army to provide them with the skills needed to manage a medical facility, now it has grown to include the Afghan National Police, National Development Strategy health care providers and civilian doctors from district hospitals.
In July 2007, the program hit the ground running with a two-week residency course. Then, a little over a year later, the program expanded by adding a three month course when they realized there was a need to include more civilian health care providers.
The three-month instruction was created for Afghan civilian doctors and experienced health care personnel. The curriculum requires students to attend the course twice a week for three months. During this time, they participate in lectures at Craig Joint Military Hospital at Bagram and then are given opportunities to implement their training by treating local nationals at the Korean and Egyptian hospitals on base.
Egyptian Col. H.E. Salem, who also serves as a pediatrician, works diligently with the interns to ensure their level of care also targets the young people within the community.
"We are enthusiastic about working with the Afghan doctors," said Salem, the chief physician at the Egyptian hospital.
At the Korean hospital, the interns are introduced to evidence-based medicine and how to properly treat communicative and non-communicative diseases in addition to common illnesses.
"We expect through this program that the interns will become aware of their public health care programs," said Dr. Seup Park, the medical director at the Korean hospital.
So far, the internship program has trained and graduated more than 100 Afghan practitioners, including three females. Air Force Lt. Col. Montserrat Edie-Korleski, who oversees a three month program, was quick to point out the importance of female graduates and how their success makes an impact on the program and within the local community.
"We’re planting the seed that gender shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to being a health care provider," Nolen added.
"Women are a key element in the health of the nation," Edie-Korleski said. "We would like to see more female recruits."
As the program continues to grow, one constant remains for this group of professionals working to improve the medical care in this country: teamwork.
"It’s a great working relationship," Edie-Korleski said. "The Koreans have a fabulous system already developed and working for them. The Egyptians have a great doctor staff who are also very capable. We learn from them, and they learn from us."
Word continues to spread about the success of the program, and classes are filled through 2009. Local nationals are encouraged to contact their Ministry of Public Health and Provincial Reconstruction Teams to enroll and receive more information about the internships.
"Someone, somewhere always wants to hear about our program," Edie-Korleski added. "Health care providers from all over BAF are expressing interest in lecturing and training."
A plan is in place for the internships to include more options in the near future. By the end of March, Afghan practitioners from Kabul are scheduled to begin a new veterinary program offered at Craig Joint Military Hospital. The continuing interest and commitment of the Afghans have been a huge boost to the ongoing success of their mission, said Edie-Korleski.
"The purpose of the program is to train Afghan health care providers in the health care arena, so they can take what they learn and develop their own health care system," she said. "It’s been amazing the positive responses we’ve gotten."
United States Forces Afghanistan’s mission, in coordination with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, is to conduct operations to defeat terrorist networks and insurgents by developing effective governance and building the Afghan National Security Force. Effective security throughout the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan facilitates continued regional stability and increases economic development for the people of Afghanistan.
Contact Information - US Forces Afghanistan Public Affairs Office
Tel +93 (0) 799 51 2919 or cell phone 93 (0) 707 355 965