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U.S. Has Played ‘Major Role’ In Afghan Health, But Report On U.S.-Built Hospitals Shows More Could Have Been Done

“Last week, the federal Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), examined a pair of hospitals [USAID] is building in the eastern part of the country,” Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Thompson reports in Time Magazine’s “Battlefield” blog, noting, “It found the hospitals too big for Afghanistan to handle.” Thompson continues, “IGAR John Sopko’s staff details a tragedy of errors, where USAID failed to determine the Afghan government’s ability to operate the two hospitals, and where construction began a full year before USAID coordinated the final design plans with the Afghan Ministry of Public Health (MOPH).”

“‘USAID’s $18.5 million investment in these new hospitals,’ the inspector general reports, ‘may not be the most economical and practical use of these funds,'” Thompson notes, and details the specific findings of the report. “USAID disputed the SIGAR report, saying it failed to take into account ‘the highly complex public health system in Afghanistan,'” he writes, adding, “It said it has helped provide health care for more than 11 million Afghans, and trained more than 21,000 healthcare providers.” He states, “There is no denying the U.S. has played a major role in improving Afghan health. The question is how much more could have been done if the Americans had been more willing to do things the Afghan way” (5/6).