IOM hands over medical equipment to a children’s hospital in Kabul

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Afghanistan today handed over life-saving medical equipment to a leading children’s hospital in the capital, Kabul.

The Japan-funded equipment, which will be used to carry out advanced laboratory testing and surgical procedures for pregnant women, newborns and children, will benefit 600 patients at the 350-bed Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital daily, said an IOM news release.

“This equipment is scientifically proven to decrease costs, save time, minimize errors, and improve productivity in a hospital,” said the IOM.

Although Afghanistan still has amongst the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world, the country’s Minister for Public Health, Dr. Suraiya Dalil, said yesterday that a significant progress had been made in reducing the maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan – from 1,600 per 100,000 live births in 2001 to 327 now.

The donation is part of IOM's Return of Qualified Afghans (RQA) programme that aims to contribute to nation-building and the rehabilitation of social services – by facilitating the return of skilled Afghans from all over the world. Between 2002-2013, IOM facilitated the return of 1,365 Afghan experts living abroad – 200 of them being women – from more than 30 countries.

Also today, the IOM is handing over the Central Passport Office complete with Afghanistan's first-ever machine-readable passport and visa-issuing system to the country's Ministry of Interior (MoI). With the funding support from Australia, the IOM constructed and refurbished the MoI premises, purchased the passport and visa-issuing equipment and trained Passport Office staff as well as consular staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Some 1,200 machine-readable ordinary passports and 500 machine-readable visas have been printed in this pilot phase," said General Sayed Naser Hashimi, the Head of the Passport Office at the MoI. "We hope to be able to print 500 passports daily."