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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Afghanistan: Taking action to save lives

Basic medical clinic in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, one in four children will not see their sixth birthday. In a country that has 16 times fewer doctors per person than Canada this should not surprise us – but it should spur us to action.

Most deaths in Afghanistan can be avoided. Respiratory infections, diarrhea, tuberculosis, malaria, malnutrition, and measles are all preventable and easily cured with medicines and basic health services that cost only pennies per day per person. There is no good reason why these diseases, which have largely been controlled in other countries, should continue to cause so many senseless deaths in Afghanistan.

It is true that the challenge of providing comprehensive healthcare to all Afghanis is immense. Even before the war, the country’s healthcare infrastructure was among the worst in the world. Government and NGOs have made progress in recent years: more clinics and hospitals have been opened, more doctors and nurses have been trained, and healthcare is provided freely to the poorest.

But the gaps in the system are still great and people continue to fall through them.

One of the biggest gaps is the shortage of available medical supplies. Where antibiotics, bandages, and scalpels are not available, lives are lost.

HOPE International Development Agency has taken action to fill this gap in eastern Afghanistan. Earlier this month a shipment of life-saving medicines, disposable medical supplies, and basic clinic equipment was delivered to Jalalabad. The shipment will help supply several rural clinics for the next year.

More importantly, the arrival of the shipment has been a source of encouragement and hope for the doctors and nurses working tirelessly to prevent the preventable. Writing to express gratitude for the supplies, HOPE International Development Agency's local director said that the donation was a sign of compassion that is pasted in the hearts of Afghanis.

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