Afghanistan: ISAF doctors provide medical aid for the long term

Release # 2007-449

MIRI DISTRICT, Afghanistan (June 20) - ISAF medical and veterinary doctors conducted a medical engagement in Ghazni province recently. One ISAF official said the goal was to train Afghan doctors so they can better serve Afghans.

"What I don't want is for patients to come in and see ISAF doctors and not want to work with their own doctors," said Capt. (Dr.) Darren Sommer, ISAF surgeon.

Throughout the day, Sommers and his team worked with the hospital staff providing care and asking questions to develop their medical expertise.

"So what should we do?" he asked about a patient's symptoms to "Dr. H.," (name not given for security reasons), the hospital surgeon. According to Sommers both named potential diagnoses and possible cures and many times they had the same medical opinion.

Sommers said he also quizzed Dr. H. about long-term treatment. Concerning a patient, the ISAF doctor asked Dr. H. if the hospital could do a particular test. Based on Dr. H's negative answer, Sommers said he kept probing to see what Dr. H. could do next to treat the patient. They determined a Khowst hospital had the capability, according to Sommers.

The teaching wasn't just one way, according to Sommers, but they learned from their Afghan counterparts. He said many ISAF doctors rarely have the ability to study some diseases in their home countries, such as malaria and tuberculosis. In addition, other diseases, such as leishmaniasis, don't exist in some nations, he added.

Throughout the day the two doctors faced a variety of injuries and illnesses. Not all of the problems seen by the doctors can easily be fixed. Some of the injuries were years old. Others injuries were wounds doctors can't physically see.

Lt. (Dr.) Keith Hoekman diagnosed a patient with post-traumatic stress disorder. The patient-named "Abdul" to protect his identity-said he is one of 12 brothers and the only one who didn't join the Taliban. Abdul said he requested they not use his house for extremists' purposes. The Taliban took his house, along with his children and possessions, and was beaten, Abdul said. After relatives broke his ribs, Abdul said he fled. Abdul said he is currently hiding from the Taliban extremists and his family.

Contact Information

ISAF Public Information Office
Press Office +93 (0)79 51 1155