Health has a new home: Celebrating the opening of the Bamyan Provincial Hospital

The doors have opened at the new Bamyan hospital, a major step forward in strengthening the health system for vulnerable Afghans, particularly women and children.

April 24, 2017 — Accessing medical care in the mountains of Afghanistan can be challenging. The new facility brings world-class healthcare to the doorstep of 450,000 Afghans, and is poised to be transformative for the region.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has worked to improve health care in Bamyan since 2003, partnering with the Government of Afghanistan to manage the operations of the hospital at its old site, where, initially, 15 of the hospital’s 35 beds were in tents.
Hospital staff steadily improved the quality and range of the services they offered, thanks to training opportunities and facility upgrades supported by the AKDN. But it was clear the aging building had reached its limit.

“Bamyan Provincial Hospital became in a way victim of its own success: the old premises became too small to cope with the increasing number of patients and there was no possibility to expand further,” said Princess Zahra Aga Khan as she officially inaugurated the hospital this week with His Excellency the Second Vice President of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danesh.

“We are grateful to be able today to officially open this well-designed and constructed 141-bed hospital on this site gifted by the Bamyan municipality,” she added.

With this new complex, the hospital can offer a higher standard of care and an expanded range of services. The AKDN will continue investing in the hospital’s operations, as part of a 35-year agreement with the government of Afghanistan to underwrite the health of Afghans in the region.

The health of women and children is a key focus of the new hospital. Almost 10 percent of children in Afghanistan will not live to see their fifth birthday, and an Afghan woman has a 1 in 52 lifetime chance of dying due to pregnancy.

Most of these deaths are preventable. Specialized wards in the new hospital dedicate beds and services for pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology, and staff are trained to offer gender-responsive services.

The hospital also caters to the needs of the general population, with an emergency department, an ambulance service, a 24-hour pharmacy, a laboratory, and a blood bank. Patients can access specialized health practitioners including: mental health professionals; ear, nose, and throat specialists; physiotherapists; ophthalmologists; and dentists.

By harnessing the power of solar energy and using innovative building methods, the new building is seismic-resistant and energy efficient. The hospital is built to stand the test of time, becoming a lasting investment in the health and wellness of Afghans in the region.

The AKDN’s support to the hospital is part of an integrated series of investments to improve health care in Afghanistan and the wider region of Central Asia, including training health professionals like midwives and nurses, upgrading a range of health facilities, promoting healthy habits, and preventing the spread of disease. These are closely connected to AKDN’s work in education and agricultural development.

Canada and Canadians have contributed significantly to this facility. The Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada invested $23 million in the facility. Individual Canadians contributed a further $4.3 million through World Partnership Walk and World Partnership Golf. The Government of France also contributed $3 million to the project.

“I know that all of you share Canada’s deep belief that access to quality healthcare for all the citizens of this vast country of Afghanistan is one of the most important building blocks for a better future,” said Canadian Ambassador His Excellency Kenneth Neufeld at the hospital inauguration, which was attended by government officials and dignitaries from Afghanistan, Canada, and France.

“I know too that you share Canada’s deep commitment to ensuring that the rights of women and children to equal access to health care are achieved.”
The construction of the new hospital is an example of a capital project that is sensitive to the complexity of development. It builds on a long track record of excellent service delivery at an existing – but inadequate – facility, ensuring that the regional context and human resources will support the long-term operations of the new building.

Setting a benchmark in quality of design and construction in an isolated environment, it leverages local suppliers and workers, and works closely with the government to ensure alignment with national health policy and priorities.

“It is my deep hope that this new hospital with its expanded facilities will be a role model for health facilities in Afghanistan and will provide essential healthcare to the people of Bamyan and the neighbouring provinces,” said Vice-President Danesh at the hospital’s inauguration.

With the opening of this new facility, AKFC is celebrating the latest achievement in a long history of Canadian support in Afghanistan through its partnership with the AKDN. This partnership began in 1995, and continues today in support for sustainable development in the fields of health, education, agriculture, livelihoods, governance, and the empowerment of women and girls.
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