News: Excess medical equipment donated to Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar
Story by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Seventy pallet-sized containers full of approximately $600,000 worth of medical equipment and supplies categorized as federal excess personal property were donated by Regional Command-South’s Afghan National Security Forces Development office.
As U.S. and coalition forces downgrade in RC-South, a large amount of equipment, materials and supplies have accumulated on KAF, a central logistical hub for the area. To make best use of these items, specially-appointed American officials decipher the best ways to manage U.S. owned property outside its borders. One way they do that is by categorizing materiel as FEPP, and therefore available to donate where needed. Afghan doctors and U.S. personnel identified that Mirwais Hospital had a significant deficit of supplies and has struggled to meet its own healthcare supply needs and was a worthy donation candidate.
“There is a shortage of medical equipment in our health facility, so it will help us a lot and it will be very good for the patients to benefit from this supply,” said Abdul Qayom Pokhola, an Afghan physician who works at Mirwais Hospital and serves with the directorate for Kandahar Public Health.
“Today we are receiving medical supplies from our friends at ISAF [International Security Assistance Force]. There are a lot of different items that they are giving us like bandages, tablets, serums, litters, wheelchairs and a lot of other things for the hospital,” said Pokhola.
First Lt. Brandon Williams, a Black Mountain, North Carolina, native who serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, as the ANSF Medical Development deputy for RC-South, explained that not only will citizens of Kandahar benefit from the donation, but also every echelon of Afghanistan’s National Police force in Kandahar.
“Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense supplies dedicated health facilities and providers for the ANA [Afghan National Army]. However, the police forces typically do not have dedicated providers” and therefore receive care at Mirwais," Williams said. “So while taking care of both the civilians and the ANP, doctors like Dr. Pokhola run short on supplies.”
Pokhola expressed a great deal of gratitude for the donation, and was confident the supplies will help fill a gap between the medical supply needs of the region and the lack of assets.
“This is very positive for us. This helps fill the need for what we don’t have,” Pakhola said. “Everyone knows during the last 10 to 15 years that the international community has done a lot for Afghanistan, especially in the healthcare sector.”
Williams explained that being a part of this effort to improve healthcare to both civilians and the security forces in the region has taught him many things, one of which is how donations of FEPP foster important relationships with Afghanistan, he said.
“They see us as friends and someone that’s reliable, and when we can help, we do,” he said. “It has opened my eyes. I have found that sometimes our way may not always be the easiest way when dealing with a different culture. You have to see what you’re doing through other peoples’ eyes to be effective.”
The Mirwais staff was only able to take a third of the available containers of medical supplies. Williams said that the International Committee of the Red Cross will assist with transporting the remaining 40 or so containers to the hospital in the coming weeks.