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American MDs Help Build the Skills of Afghan Military Doctors

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Sam Beattie

Nine years after the war in Afghanistan began the government and its coalition allies are preparing for the day it will end. Part of that preparation is ensuring that Afghanistan's medical community will be able to care for the population. U.S. Air Force personnel are working at the Kandahar Regional Military Hospital, to help medical workers be ready. Improving the level of care here will help the Afghan military improve its reputation, and help it stabilize the region.

Just 12 months ago, the seriously wounded went to a nearby NATO hospital for treatment by doctors from the international coalition.

Watch Sam Beattie's Report

Today an Afghan soldier with serious head injuries will will be treated in the Kandahar Regional Military Hospital, the Afghan Army's main hospital in southern Afghanistan.

The United States Air Force has staff here to support Afghan doctors and nurses. The goal is to increase their skills so they no longer need international help.

Captain Michael Hampton, a trauma physician, said "We have been partnering well, I think, to create a medical system that can continue on in the future, and allow us the chance to separate a little bit and allow the Afghans to run it more for themselves."

Dr. Abdul Khabeir has been in the program for three years, honing his skills. "I want to be a good doctor in the future, and I want there to be stability, so that people stop killing each other, and stop the turmoil and (I can) improve my skills as an orthopedic surgeon," he said.

Although it is a military hospital, this 50-bed facility provides free care to civilians.

Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Escher, the senior medical advisor to hospital, hopes the lessons learned here will spread through the fledgling medical system of this impoverished, war-torn country. "The things they learn here will be transferred to civilian health care, so it's all about building health-care capacity within Afghanistan, so they can manage more severe patients, more critical patients without anybody else's help. That is the goal," he said.

And it is a goal that help allow U.S. and coalition forces to eventually leave the country.

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