Afghanistan: Medical kits saving lives in remote mountain villages

DAHI RAES, Jawand District, Badghis Province - The turbaned man charges hastily into the small mud hut. His eyes are wide with worry. In his arms he carries a small, sobbing girl, one of his two daughters. His older daughter follows at his heels.
The men standing around the hut quickly clear a path for the trio, who sink down onto a cushion. The father gently places the younger daughter beside a kind-looking older man, a Community Health Worker trained and equipped by World Vision.

The health worker, Kalakhan, takes the girl's temperature, then her sister's. He and the father, Hanif, speak. The girls' mother, Zolaikha, died of malaria three months ago. Now the sisters, 3-year-old Bala Nasta and 8-year-old Bano, have some of the same symptoms - chills and fever. Bano's light green eyes are glazed, and little Bala Nasta is bright pink with fever.

A deadly form of malaria killed Zolaikha, and there was nowhere to go for help. Before Kalakhan began working in Dahi Raes, the nearest medical facility was in Char Taq, more than eight hours away from the family's village by donkey, their only transportation. Zolaikha was too sick and weak to make the trip.

Hanif, a farmer whose crops had been devastated by Afghanistan's three-year drought, had no money for medicines or even mosquito nets. The little family could only watch helplessly as a preventable and treatable disease claimed their beloved wife and mother.

After examining the girls' symptoms thoroughly, Kalakhan diagnoses malaria, which can be easily treated with medicine included in his World Vision medical kit. He counts out two courses and gives it to Hanif. The two discuss how the medicine should be given. Visibly relieved, the father warmly thanks Kalakhan, then he and the girls leave to return to their village, which is within close walking distance.

Most families in Badghis Province, where most of World Vision Afghanistan's work takes place, live hours or days away from the nearest medical facility. World Vision Afghanistan has trained 10 Community Health Workers in centrally located villages throughout Jawand District, one of the most inhospitable and difficult-to-access areas of Badghis Province. Each health worker has been equipped with a kit of basic medicines and other medical items to combat the area's most common diseases and conditions, such as malaria, diarrhea and respiratory tract infections.