October 13, 2010

OML Donations Make Difference in Afghan Medicine

Photo captions:
A recent delivery of OML contributions to Afshar Hospital in Kabul. Pictured are Dr. Gary Davis,
a member of my command who graciously offers to transport OML deliveries on my behalf, and Dr. Ghulam Farooq, the Director of Afshar Hospital.

Kabul Medical University, Afghanistan's premiere medical school, has received thousands of volumes of medical education resources through OML.

To All,

As a point of contact in Afghanistan for Operation Medical Libraries (OML), I want to acknowledge receipt of your generous contributions. I apologize for the impersonal nature of this email, but the overwhelming number of boxes we've received since my arrival in theater two months ago leaves me little time to thank each one of you individually, as much as I would like to. I can't thank you all enough for taking the time and effort to collect, pack, and mail your medical texts and other educational materials on behalf of OML.

My colleagues here in the Medical Training Advisory Group (MTAG) marvel over the extreme value of many of these references. We often discuss which Afghan medical training facility, school, or hospital would most benefit from certain contributions -- a Netter anatomy text for a medical school reference library, a wonderful text and CD on surgery of the skin for a local hospital with plastic surgery capabilities, so on and so forth.

The MTAG nurses covet the few nursing texts we've received and are planning to hand-deliver a recently sorted shipment to members of the Armed Forces Academy of Medical Sciences for the benefit of their nursing program. My colleagues have delivered many medical texts to augment the reference libraries of local medical universities and hospitals, both civilian and military. One physician colleague recently delivered several surgical texts to two very deserving and courageous female Afghan OB-GYN physicians employed at a local hospital operated by a U.S. non-governmental organization. They were so thrilled.

Very few physicians in this country can afford to purchase medical texts for their personal use. According to my colleague, one of the OB-GYNs has already read one donated text on operative obstetrics from cover to cover. Extremely shy and reserved, she even corrected a male attending physician during morning rounds (something rarely done much less by a female), reportedly gazing stiffly at her feet while quoting directly from the text. This is just a small example of how your donations have made a difference in the world of Afghan medicine.

Needless to say, my colleagues and I are very appreciative for all OML donations. Our Afghan counterparts are equally, if not more, grateful. For those few that enclosed a return email address with your donation, I can at least acknowledge our appreciation. If you are aware of those who donated texts but did not enclose an email address, please pass on our heartfelt thanks.


S. L. Holtzclaw, MD, MPH
Lead Advisor, Medical Policy and Development
Mentor, GIRoA Office of the Surgeon General
Liaison, GIRoA Ministry of Public Health & USAID
Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan / NATO Training
Mission-Afghanistan / Medical Training Advisory Group Office of the
Command Surgeon