Comprehensive survey of emergency medicine in Afghanistan during the current conflict setting

This published research project, in the International Journal of Emergency Medicine, was made possible by a grant from The McLaren Foundation staff and statistical support was provided by Michigan State University.

Afghanistan’s healthcare has suffered tremendously after decades of war and civil unrest. The country is currently entrenched in an insurgency that is fueled by social problems- including lack of access to basic healthcare services. The current US strategy of Counter Insurgency and State Building seeks to diminish these gaps in an effort to curb terrorism and promote sustainable peace and growth.

One of the key focal points is that of actual health care delivery. Afghanistan has the some of the world’s worst health indicators and recognized as such, the major donor organizations such as USAID and the World Bank implemented what is known as the Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS). The BPHS seeks to address key areas such as mass vaccinations, infectious diseases such as HIV/TB and Malaria, and Maternal and child mortality.

During one of our recent trips to Kabul, we were spending our days in clinics and intermittently implementing our project. Our goal is to use an evidence based approach to help identify gaps at the initial phase of patient interaction. Local physicians and healthcare workers have no formal training in Emergency Medicine and each hospital has a unique approach to the triage of patients–with or without receiving initial evaluation. Our work will seek to assess the capacity of Primary as well as Local Healthcare Providers’ to deliver acute resuscitation and stabilization as well as their capacity to transfer to definitive care through a series of surveys, small group discussions with physicians and nurses that staff these emergency departments, as well as personal observation.

As previously mentioned, the BPHS addresses some basic healthcare needs of Afghans. The BPHS is unique in that it is the first of its kind being implemented in a conflict region and has the philosophy of delivering healthcare as a human right. We hope that our work in Emergency Medicine can compliment the goals of BPHS, and expand to other regions of the health sector and eventually other countries.

To learn more about our research visit our publication, click here.