Program builds better health care system in
Source: Government of the United States of America
(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release)
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 19, 2009 – Afghans are
gaining opportunities for better health care through
the International Medical Mentorship Training and
Medical personnel from the United States, South
Korea and Egypt have developed the instruction to aid
the Afghan Public Health Ministry in establishing its
own health care system.
"The goal is to give students an opportunity to see
all the factors that it takes to manage an effective
hospital," said 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 [Afghan National Army and Afghan National
While the two-week class initially was targeted at
providing the Afghan National Army with the skills
needed to manage a medical facility, 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 began as a two-week
residency course. Then, about a year later, the
program expanded when coordinators added a three-month
course so they could include more civilian health care
The three-month instruction is aimed at 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 on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and
then are given opportunities to implement their
training by treating local people at the Korean and
Egyptian hospitals on base.
Egyptian Col. (Dr.) H.E. Salem, a pediatrician and
chief physician at the Egyptian hospital, works
diligently with the interns to ensure their level of
care also targets the young people within the
"We are enthusiastic about working with the Afghan
doctors," Salem said.
At the Korean hospital, the interns are introduced
to evidence-based medicine and learn how to properly
treat communicative and noncommunicative diseases in
addition to common illnesses.
"We expect through this program that the interns
will become aware of their public health care
programs," Dr. Seup Park, the medical director at the
Korean hospital, said.
So far, the internship program has trained and
graduated more than 100 Afghan practitioners,
including three women. Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.)
Montserrat Edie-Korleski, who oversees the three-month
program, was quick to point out the importance of
female graduates and how their success affects the
program and 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 said. "Women are a key element in the
health of the nation. We would like to see more female
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 the end of the
year. Local nationals are encouraged to contact their
Ministry of Public Health and provincial
reconstruction for more information or to enroll.
"Someone, somewhere always wants to hear about our
program," Edie-Korleski said.
A plan is in place for the internships to include
more options in the near future. By the end of March,
Afghan practitioners here are scheduled to begin a new
veterinary program 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, Edie-Korleski said.
"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."