Sunday, October 03, 2004

Jaipur's healing touch for Kabul

Jaipur has helped thousands of Afghan amputees stand up and begin life anew with its internationally acclaimed prosthetic limb. Taking that relationship further, the Jaipur-based Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) is now working in Kabul, trying to get the war-battered and non-existent health system there back on its feet and running.

The IIHMR partnership is part of a $ 3.9 million project awarded to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to set up a national evaluation system to monitor and assess Afghanistan’s health care system. The team has been in Kabul for over a month working on a project that will help the Afghan Ministry of Health (MoH) create a pool of trained personnel to oversee and manage its health care programmes.

These persons will be involved in using and managing available data to create health programmes and understand the needs of the system. They will also be trained in generating necessary toolkits, such as questionnaires, and handling them. The incessant strife in Afghanistan has left the people there devoid of many of the basic skills and facilities required to manage health programmes.

The project will also try and get the numerous NGOs and the government to work together. “It is essential to assess the NGOs so that there is coordination amongst them and with the government,” said SD Gupta, the IIHMR director. “The trained persons should be able to help the two work in an integrated approach so that they can achieve common goals,” he added.

“The work is about managerial intervention and capacity building, not infrastructure building,” Gupta clarified. “Because of the long conflict in Afghanistan, the health system there has degenerated and trained manpower has become scarce,” he added. The team has already worked out a plan with the MoH and developed training modules. “We have even started training people there,” said Gupta.

Acknowledging the long haul, the project is expected, at the moment, to last over three years. Currently LP Singh, an associate professor at IIHMR, is there. Eventually, around eight persons from IIHMR are expected to take up responsibilities there. “You can have the best of the equipments but you need to have the required and trained manpower to get the system working,” said Gupta.


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