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Building Under The Guns

  • September 26th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

nato-pic-of-week1.jpgAustralia and Dutch teams have completed work on a hospital and clinic in Afghanistan, putting emphasis on the civil reconstruction side of the NATO-led commitment.

As Sian Graham reports, major work has been focused on the Oruzgan provincial capital Tarin Kowt, a scene of heavy fighting against Taliban insurgents in 2003 after the allied intervention in Afghanistan, and now the main base for Australian forces.

While debate continues among European member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), over the commitment to Afghanistan, progress is slowly being made by the Reconstruction Task Force (RTF).

The Australian RTF in partnership with the Netherlands Provincial Reconstruction Team has officially reopened the Tarin Kowt Hospital, after refurbishing it, and the newly constructed Yaklengah Comprehensive Health Clinic in southern Afghanistan.

The A$790 000 hospital project began in late 2006 with the works planned, funded and managed by Reconstruction Task Force engineers and built mainly by local contractors.

As well as providing employment and vital income for development, works in this category are set up to ensure that ownership is kept in local hands to a high degree.

The project manager, Australian Army Captain Dan Keep, said (9.9.07) transformation of the hospital would greatly increase the level of effective health care available in Oruzgan Province.

“Prior to commencing the works, the hospital was in a poor state of repair,” he said.

“It was ill-equipped and poorly staffed, struggling to perform the role of the major health facility in the Province.”

The main building has had its interior refurbished to improve hygiene standards; a new water supply and reliable electricity provided along with a new kitchen, separate Out -Patients Departments for men and women, and an infectious diseases ward to improve treatment of contagious diseases such as cholera.

The new ward is regarded as the most important change because of the debilitating impacts of disease in the region.

“We see high quality health and education facilities as the foundation of a prosperous community, and this is why we are working so hard to deliver improved health infrastructure in and around Tarin Kowt,” said the RTF commander, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Jarvie.

Over A$390 000 has been budgeted for the Yaklengah Comprehensive Health Clinic, 10km South-West of Tarin Kowt, where new work has included an extension and renovation to the main clinic, construction of staff accommodation and upgraded water supply.

The Reconstruction Task Force provides trade training to the local population and military engineering training to the Afghan National Army.

Work is starting on a bridge across a major river to connect outlying regions with Tarin Kowt hospital and further large-scale works are planned for schools and a regional health training institution.

Civil aid work is held up as the chief purpose of the deployment of allied troops, who protect projects under way and mount patrols against Taliban moving back into the area.

Reference:

“ISAF completes major health facilities in Tarin Kowt”, NATO – ISAF (International security Assistance Force – Afghanistan), 9.9.07. http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/pressreleases/2007/09-september/pr070917-638.html (25.9.07)

EU Australia Online, “Afghanistan: French Aircraft; Australian Minister Visits”, 4.9.07

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