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US-funded, historic Salang Hospital providing critical care to mountain villagers



KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (January 28, 2014) - Located 11,000 feet above sea level in the rugged mountains of Parwan Province, the U.S.-funded 20-bed Salang Hospital represents a significant step forward in medical services for local Afghans who previously had access to minimal medical care and were forced to travel 30 kilometers down treacherous mountain roads to obtain higher level hospital services.

Although the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released an inspection report today citing incomplete construction, safety issues and missing paperwork related to Salang Hospital, the facility is currently providing improved medical services to almost 3,000 Afghan patients per month in the remote village north of Kabul.

The hospital's capabilities include internal medicine, pediatric, maternity, dentistry, nursing care, immunization, pharmaceutical and overnight hospitalization services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Dr. Muhammad Qassim Saidee, Parwan Province Director for the Afghan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).

Local ministry officials are currently in the process of hiring a surgeon and other staff and have installed a solar power generation unit to supplement the electricity provided by the current generator, said Dr. Saidee. The MoPH also provides funds for generator fuel purchases, hospital staff salaries, and medical supplies.

Dr. Saidee confirmed that water pumped from a nearby river supplies the facility but noted that drinking water and water used for surgical and other medical procedures is chemically disinfected to appropriate levels.

Funded under USFOR-A's Commander's Emergency Response Program, the Salang Hospital construction project cost nearly $600,000 in labor, materials and equipment. Awarded under an Afghan First contract, the project provided jobs to dozens of local workers. The hospital permanently employs dozens of hospital staff and additional hiring is underway, said Dr. Saidee.

Equally significant, the project allowed U.S. commanders operating in the area to strengthen relationships with local officials by addressing an urgent humanitarian need.

In the past three years alone, commanders have invested almost $21.6 million in CERP funds to develop 765 medical assistance projects. These projects range from building, repairing, or improving small-scale medical infrastructure to providing urgently needed medical and immunization supplies to health facilities across Afghanistan.

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