The kabob was a treat after our visit to Rabia Balkhi—Kabul’s dedicated women’s hospital. It stands in name but in resources each hospital we visit is severely lacking in the basic things one needs to see to call it a hospital. We know that thi has become a running theme in our visits to each public hospital thus far. So how do the country’s hospitals and doctor’s run? With little resources and technology it therefore stands solely on the shoulders of physicians to diagnose based on the very basics that all of us as physicians learn early on in medical school- by physical examination. We have come to know these doctors as some of the most intelligent and clinically astute MD’s we have ever met. Many have told stories of seeing patients in the midst of gun-fire and rocket ships blaring from above the hospital ceilings. All Afghan doctors deserve a salute for their selfless giving, bravery, and humanity. But the place of female physicians is without question very special to us. Though most were still unwilling to be placed on film or have pictures taken mostly for security concerns, they shared with us their lengthy stories. They spoke of previous years where they saw patients secretly in their homes, performed surgeries and deliveries under the burqa, livied in hiding in hospital basements- for fear of being jailed or even killed by Taliban for practicing their beloved profession. Though today they practice freely, their woes are far from over. They do not have enough functional fetal monitors and no uterine contraction monitor at all; the blood product and drug shortage the plagues most public hospitals does not spare them; and they do not have a neonatal ICU.
|Homes with a View|
|The destroyed presidential palace--Darul Aman|
The broader picture of healthcare in Afghanistan has not improved much, but it is getting better. The greatest hope lies in the younger generation of doctors that are eager, willing, and more than able. We visited two newer training hospitals, Cure and Afshar, that were different and inspiring. We will talk about them in our next blog and also touch on the meaning of free healthcare, user fees, and the role of government.