PAKTYA PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
PAKTIYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Men with varying levels of medical knowledge, members of the Afghan Border Police and doctors from the Jaji Aryoub District Hospital, learned critical medical skills during a four-day medical seminar held in the Jaji District Center, Sept. 25-28.
They were part of a mentorship program designed to teach lessons which they would, in turn, teach to their colleagues. This “train the trainer” seminar would streamline medical care and prevent the unnecessary redirecting of patients within the district.
Doctors and medics from Afghan National Army Paktiya Regional Military Hospital in Gardez provided the instruction which included airway management, head and spine injuries, splinting, wound care and medical waste.
“The purpose was to get the ANA out with the other Afghans for training and, more importantly, link the Afghan National Security Forces health care system with Ministry of Public Health care system,” said Air Force Maj. Chris Lindshield, physician advisor, Medical Embedded Training Team. “They can’t operate independently of one another. Our hospital, Paktiya Regional Military Hospital, is essentially the trauma center for the east.”
This was the first time the METT held such a medical seminar. Previously, a lot of their focus had been on the ANA, so they wanted them to reach out and teach others what they’ve been taught for the past few years. The team would like to see them progress and share that progress with other doctors.
“This is a new initiative that they’re trying to get us out to the outlying areas so the little towns can have the sustainability to hold their own,” said Tech. Sgt. Christina Zabel, medical technician, METT. “We gave them a base [of knowledge], and we plan to be back in three months to see how they’re doing with the information we taught them.”
The idea for a seminar was sparked by a coalition Special Operations Force team in Gardez, who passed the idea on to the Paktya Regional Medical Hospital. The hospital started to collaborate with various elements to coordinate a medical seminar to have the ANA medical experts reach out and teach others. Their goal was to teach medical lessons to the district-level hospitals to have less patients travel the two-hour drive to the Paktya Regional Medical Hospital. Jaji Aryoub District Hospital is considered a first-line medical facility, where it treats urgent care patients who aren’t deemed critical enough to send to the larger, more expansive hospital in Gardez.
“We discussed the specific skill sets that were needed and talked about what the doctors here wanted,” said Lindshield. “They needed doctors for anesthesia, intensive care, preventative medicine, emergency room, general surgery and dental.”
The classes were spread over the course of four days and consisted of detailed instruction on administering intravenous fluids, ultrasound, dental hygiene and preventative medicine. Students were given a lecture and then allowed time for hands-on training.
“I was impressed with the amount of desire to learn by the hospital staff and medics, especially with the hands-on training,” said Lindshield. “They were really eager to try new skills, like doing central lines and splinting. We’re pretty impressed that, with the limited amount of supplies and a small building, they’re able to handle quite a bit.”
The female members of the medical team traveled next door to the hospital to visit the women’s clinic. They discussed the standards of the clinic and the women’s knowledge of health care and midwifery. They also answered questions from the clinic staff on women’s and children’s health.
“The women were very knowledgeable because they have gone through an 18-month midwife course and the training they received at Paktya University was very good,” said Zabel. "They are very passionate about what they are doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if I went to teach them something and they already knew.”
During the last day of the seminar, students from the Aryoub Lisa School next door lined up to have a dental exam done by Dr. Sayed Dost Mohammed Aneria, Chief of Dental, Paktiya Regional Military Hospital. A coalition SOF team member quickly examined the students before sending them into the district center to see the dentist. Aneria handed out dental hygiene supplies, prescriptions for antibiotics and performed dental work. The brave patients were numbed and had teeth pulled while others were given toothbrushes and floss.
Dr. Mohammad Ayuob Aryudoi, director of Jaji Aryoub District Hospital, was grateful for the lessons and experience. He thanked the ANA doctors for taking the time to teach them skills they didn’t already know and giving them the opportunity to further their education. He also hoped the training would continue and they would have more opportunity to learn and teach.
“I haven’t made the hospital, the people made it and the people support it,” said Aryudoi. “The problem we have is we don’t have fully proficient people to take care of the patients, so what we and the doctors need is a different type of training in the district and we hope to bring this type of training in the future as well. I hope everybody learned something and I hope we have this kind of seminar training for our people and doctors in the future for the district hospital.”
Overall, the medical seminar was a success. The students and teachers learned necessary medical training that would be beneficial in the future. Not only will the doctors at the Jaji Aryoub District Hospital have the knowledge on how to treat patients with urgent medical needs, it reduces the patients who are directed to the Paktya Regional Medical Hospital, giving the ANA doctors there more opportunity to treat patients with more serious medical needs.
“They know to call us for certain kinds of patients,” said Lindshield. “We know about each other, and we have a connection established. There is a saying in medical education that’s ‘watch one, do one, teach one,’ and so I think the ANA has been watching and doing treatments now, and now they’re onto the third step: teaching."
The medical seminar concluded with certificates of training being passed out to the students. The ANA doctors and medics and the coalition SOF team leadership assisted in distributing the certificates, personally congratulating each student who completed the training.
“I want to thank everyone here for their hospitality to the guests as we work together to improve the lives of everyone in Jaji,” said the coalition SOF team leader. “This is one of the areas we want to work on, so we will continue to help.”
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This work, Train the trainer: Jaji district medical seminar, by SGT Lizette Hart, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.