News / Asia

NATO Hospital Offers Top Notch Care in Taliban Heartland

Physicians work at the NATO hospital at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
Physicians work at the NATO hospital at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan


Whether a soldier needs a cure for the common cold or brain surgery, the NATO hospital on Kandahar Airfield can handle it.  This is one of Afghanistan's most sophisticated hospitals, and it provides top medical care on the front line. Just minutes by helicopter from most conflict spots in the country's south, the hospital saves the lives of 98 percent of the injured who come here.

Recently this hospital's emergency room was filled with the cries of a three-year-old Afghan boy.

The trauma team rushes to their positions, quickly hooking monitors and other equipment to check the boy's vital signs. He is lucky to be alive after stepping on a land mine outside his village. His 10-year-old brother died.

It is a familiar story for the staff of this military hospital on Kandahar Airfield, in Afghanistan's south.

U.S. Navy Commander Michael Danenberg, a doctor who specializes in emergency medicine, estimates 20 to 30 percent of his patients are under the age of 12, and most have severe injuries.

"This is why I signed up with the Navy," Danenberg said. "I've been doing Navy emergency medicine for 19 years now. To me this has been the most fulfilling aspect of my 19-year career so far, the fact that I know I am doing it as close to the time of injury, in a combat zone, and being able to go from there," he said.

The NATO hospital on Kandahar Airfield is one of the most advanced medical facilities in the country. It serves not only international coalition troops and the Afghan military, it also cares for the citizens of this impoverished, war-torn nation.

Despite the war going on not far away, this looks like a hospital transplanted straight out of the United States. The building has the latest medical equipment. A huge air-conditioning system blocks the summer heat out, and helps keep the hospital quiet and clean. Doctors and nurses monitor patients who lie on comfortable beds with white sheets.

It is just minutes by helicopter from most of the region's conflict spots, which means injured soldiers and civilians can reach help as soon as possible. Having an advanced medical facility so close to the front lines saves lives, said U.S Navy Captain Darin Via, the hospital's commanding officer.

"Military medicine has learned over time the closer we can treat any casualty to [the] combat setting, the potential of returning them to their unit is that much greater," said Via. "Obviously in the extreme trauma casualties, the [medical] capabilities closer to combatants saves their lives."

This hospital can treat everything from colds to depression and can handle complex procedures such as brain surgery. But trauma is the specialty.

Commander Joseph Strauss, chief orthopedic surgeon at the NATO hospital at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
Commander Joseph Strauss, chief orthopedic surgeon at the NATO hospital at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan

Doctors see up to 200 severe cases each month, mostly victims of bombs or leftover land mines from earlier conflicts. Chief orthopedic surgeon U.S. Navy Commander Joseph Strauss estimates that more than 85 percent of his patients come directly from the battlefield. That, he said, brings medical challenges that doctors in most hospitals do not face.

"The severity is much higher here, the wounds themselves are significantly contaminated with debris, hay, grass, mud, everything from the terrain that is all over the patient. The wounds are dirty," Strauss said.

But being so close to the battlefield means if a patient makes it to Kandahar alive, chances are he will stay that way. The hospital has a 98 percent survival rate.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs