Friday, August 28, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Another picture of the traffic and pedestrians in the Kabul streets. Notice the bicyclist to the left of the picture.
So, here it is 2 days after the elections and no official results yet. I didn't see the big three networks (ABC, CBS, & NBC) projecting the winner in each province on election night here in Kabul. Actually, the last thing I heard was that maybe by Tuesday, the Election Committee will release some results. Yesterday, both Karzi and Abdullah were claiming victory. Only time will tell how it plays out...
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The Ministry of Finance asserts that in the post Taliban Afghanistan, per capita income has increased from USD 70 in 2001 to USD 300 in 2008. However, Afghanistan is still ranked as the fourth poorest and most deprived country in the world, and the poorest country in the entire Asia-Pacific region, according to the Afghanistan Human Development Report 2007. Decades of conflict combined with a number of serious earthquakes, consecutive droughts and other natural disasters have had dramatic impacts on the Afghan population. Those affected are the poorest demographic, equally split between the countryside and urban areas.
Since the fall of the Taliban and the end of major combat, economic growth has been rapid. There has been a strong recovery, although from a very low level of activity, accompanied by an improvement in some social indicators. In the past eight years, millions of Afghan refugees have returned to their home country and school enrolment has continuously increased, particularly among girls. Significant progresses have also been achieved in the health sector, evidenced by the massive success of consecutive vaccination campaigns. However, despite the economic recovery, Afghanistan still ranks very poorly on all social indicators. According to the latest report by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), about ten million people suffer from severe poverty with a large number earning less than 1 USD a day. Human poverty in Afghanistan is a multidimensional problem that includes inequalities in access to productive resources and social services; poor health, education and nutritional status; weak social protection systems; vulnerability to disasters; human displacement and gender inequality.
While there is no exact statistic about the rate of unemployment in Afghanistan, it is believed that some 40% of the country’s estimated 30 million people are jobless. This high rate of unemployment has driven thousands of Afghans to neighbouring Pakistan and Iran in search of jobs. Unfortunately, this situation increasingly benefits the Taliban, who commonly seek recruits among the jobless with offers of money.
According to the World Bank, in 2009 only 13% of Afghans have access to safe drinking water, 12% to adequate sanitation and just 6% to electricity. In rural Afghanistan, which supports the agriculture sector, the main industry in Afghanistan, the lack of technical and infrastructure capacity, including clean affordable energy, maintains a high level of socio-economic insecurity. Despite large agricultural potential, the country is missing rural entrepreneurship, market linkages, access to financing and technology and a strong private sector to create job opportunities.
Kind of sobering, isn't it....
Monday, August 10, 2009
I know I have been seriously delinquent in updating my blog. Here it is already the 10th of August. Wow, time flies when you’re having such fun. NOT!
My team has also picked up another mentoring job at another hospital here in Kabul, NDS Hospital. NDS stands for National Defense Service, which is similar to our CIA. I went to the hospital once last week and again today. It is a relatively new hospital. If it wasn’t for the signs in Dari, it could be any small, rural hospital in the US. It is a very nice facility. I will of course be mentoring the OR nurses. Last week, we went in the afternoon and there were no cases in the OR. I met the nurses and we began to build a working relationship. When I went back today, again there were no scheduled cases. All of the hospitals in Kabul have begun to cancel all elective cases. They want as many empty beds in the hospitals as possible for the elections next week. No one knows what will happen during the elections and it is better to be prepared with lots of empty beds in the hospitals.
On this past Saturday, I went to the US Embassy here in Kabul for a short conference. That is a nice piece of property here in Kabul. They even have an outdoor pool, but we did not go swimming. Hopefully, we schedule a little down time for a swim.
I continue to work with the OR nurses at NMH. One of the Nursing processes in all of the ANA is to work on 36 basic nursing competencies. On Monday’s, the nurses have training on one of the competencies. One of the OR nurses will attend the training, then train the other nurses on Thursday with my help. Once they have completed all 36 competencies, they receive a certificate from BG Razia, the Chief Nurse for the ANA. They are also trying to make a cash bonus for this program.
In the OR, we are working on developing surgical conscience, sterility, and how to clean instruments and the rooms after a case. This is inbetween trying to obtain supplies (medical & surgical consumables). My team doesn't have an Ortho Doc so I am trying to coordinate the ortho gear too. Always busy. Getting consumables requires a walk to the National Depot and hopefully they will have what we need. If they don't, then I contact local vendors to get quotes, then we write a contract. This takes at least 30 days to get the supplies. Nothing is quick in Afghanistan.
I read an interesting article this past week, "The 800 pound Gorilla: The Interrelationship of Culture, Economics and Security in Afghanistan."
It is a unique perspective. I hope you enjoy it.
Oh yeah, about the title of this post, Not another Fobbit. Military personnel who live and stay on the FOB (Forward Operating Base) and never go outside the wire, are called Fobbits. (This is what I was when I was in Iraq). I am lucky enough to get off of NKC everyday. When I walk up to NMH, that is considered going outside the wire. The OR nurses ask me often to go out in Kabul with them. I only wish it were that easy and safe. I would love to see Kabul from their perspective.
I will try to update the blog more often and with more pictures. We took pictures at NDS today, but it wasn't with my camera. When I get the pictures, I will [post them. The picture I posted today is my team and our humvees in the parking lot of NKC. We are missing 2 people, but we can never get all of us together for a photo...