KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Feb. 12, 2013) - Afghan National Army medical professionals from across the region met at the Kandahar Regional Medical Hospital, Feb. 10, to share their knowledge with one another as well as to gauge the current state of the ANA’s medical capabilities.
The ability of the ANA to provide medical care to its soldiers is a major concern, according to Air Force Col. John Savage, Regional Command (South) medical training advisory group team lead. The medical field here still suffers from a lack of equipment and properly trained personnel.
“There are only six Afghan Air Force medical doctors in the entire country,” said Savage.
“The lack of logistics is also a concern,” continued Savage. “They (the ANA) simply do not have the parts required for repairs in their (supply) system and that makes them that much harder to get.”
The hospital’s centrifuge is currently non-mission capable due to a lack of parts. The primary use for this piece of equipment is to separate blood into its separate components to extend shelf life. Without the machine, and the upcoming holiday of Ramadan, blood shortages are expected.
Last year the hospital was able to get through the holiday by offering ‘night draws,’ albeit barely, said Savage. Most people don’t want to donate after fasting all day.
Other topics of discussion covered specific medial concerns to include a brief history of communicable diseases in the country and how to prevent them.
Several of the attending doctors, who are specialists in their respective field, lectured on the importance of such topics as basic hygiene and hypertension.
It was explained by one ANA doctor that 2.5 million Afghans have died from tuberculosis since the end of WWII. He went on to talk about the importance of personal hygiene, proper washing of clothes and handling of contaminated articles brought into the hospitals by patients.
As the International Security Assistance Force draws down, many of the functions it has provided will be taken over by the increasing number of Afghan forces. The KRMH has been taking steps to assume the role of providing every aspect of care for not only ANA soldiers but also for the local community.
Over the past year the hospital has added 50 beds, administration offices and a prayer area as well as a triage tent to process casualties in the event of a mass casualty. The hospital also has 20, mission capable ambulances for ground evacuations. However, they still rely heavily on ISAF air assets for critical casualty evacuations.
An Afghan National Army soldier, assigned to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Kandak, receives care from an ANA nurse, Feb. 10, in the Kandahar Regional Medical Hospital, located on Camp Hero, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Uriah Walker, RC(S) Public Affairs)