Afghanistan

Expanding Health Services in the Provinces of Afghanistan

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • More services, modern sophisticated equipment and better care are some of the positive results after the Nangarhar Regional Hospital came under the umbrella of the SEHAT Program.

  • Implemented by the Ministry of Health, the SEHAT Program aims to expand the scope, quality, and coverage of health services provided to the population across Afghanistan, particularly for the poor.

  • SEHAT, which receives funding from the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, supports the provision of basic health and essential hospital services in both rural and urban areas.

JALALABAD CITY, Nangarhar Province – Doctors rush to a seven-year-old child as he lies on a bed in the emergency room of the Nangarhar Regional Hospital in Jalalabad city. Located at the junction of the Kabul and Kunar Rivers, Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province. Jalalabad city, almost 155 kilometers far from Kabul, is the second-largest city as well as the center of its social and business activity in eastern Afghanistan. Nangarhar Regional Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in the city serving besides population from the city but also other provinces.

Back in the hospital, an hour earlier, the child was injured in a traffic accident. Luckily, the boy survived from the accident with few deep fractures in his right leg. “The child was returning from school when the incident occurred,” recounts Zia Gul 45, as he worriedly watches the doctors treating the child. “He is from our village and my son witnessed the car hit him. We acted swiftly and brought him to this hospital.”

Next to the bed, the boy’s father, Mohammad Ali, 32, watches him with teary eyes. He rushed to the hospital as soon as he heard about the incident. “As yet, I don’t know the situation surrounding the incident,” he whispers. “I am thankful to my fellow villager for his quick action in taking my son to the hospital.”

Dr. Farhad Awalkhail was the first doctor to attend to the child. “He suffered from severe shock,” he says as the child is taken to the operating room. “Initially he was unconscious, but he gained consciousness after we treated him and now his condition is stable. He will have to undergo surgery for the severe fracture in his leg.”

The condition of the hospital is drastically different from what it was a year ago. In January 2014, SEHAT (System Enhancement for Health Action in Transition) Program implemented by the Ministry of Public Health with support from the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) started supporting Nangarhar Regional Hospital.

SEHAT Program aims to expand the scope, quality, and coverage of health services provided to the population, particularly for the poor, across the country, and to enhance the Ministry of Public Health’s (MoPH) stewardship functions. The program supports the provision of basic package of health services and essential package of hospital services in both rural and urban areas. It also strengthens the national health system and MoPH’s capacity at central and provincial levels, so it can effectively perform its stewardship functions.

Keeping the population healthy

"From the time when the hospital is under SEHAT support everything has changed”, says Dr. Hamayoon Zaheer, the head physician at Nangarhar Regional Hospital. According to Dr Zaheer after a year of assistance from SEHAT program, the hospital has increased its capacity to serve up to 1,000 patients including patients from neighboring Kunar, Nooristan and Laghman provinces.

“We have seen a lot of positive changes here at the hospital since last year,” Dr. Zaheer says. “We have increased the capacity of emergency room from 35 to 100 patients, and total number of beds from 420 to 535. Previously, the hospital suffered from lack of sophisticated equipment such as X-ray, CT-Scan and Laboratory equipment, however, SEHAT Program supplied hospital with the required equipment.”

Nangarhar Regional Hospital now has the capacity to carry out 65 operations and assist at 80 deliveries per day. “The SEHAT Program has been a blessing for the hospital,” Dr. Zaheer says. “We are now able to help keep patients healthier—helping to create a healthier Afghanistan.”