Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Medical Equipment from Home

Here I am with the Deputy Health Minister of Parwan Province. I filled the box in front of me, on the table, with medical instruments and supplies from home. My father, a retired physician, had asked how he could help the people of the area where I was stationed. I asked Dr. Qasim, the Provincial Health Minister, "what are you short of?" I will never forget his answer. He looked me in the eye and said only one word - "everything". I asked him what smaller, critical items did he want first and he told me they needed otoscopes, blood pressure meters and stethescopes.
I wrote my Dad and told him all about the situation, and how terrible it was that their few, and very busy healthcare providers lacked access to very basic supplies. Dad asked me, what kind of things would they want - I just told him, whatever you would have had in your black bag, back in the day (he actually thought that to be a quite useful descriptor - and that made me absurdly pleased with myslef for thinking of it, heh heh).
Not being one to sit idly by, Dad started sending me otoscopes, stethescopes, blood pressure meters, latex free gloves, batteries, etc., every month. He also hit up other docs in my hometown, and they kicked in some as well. Whenever we would meet with the local Afghan officials, I would box everything up and give it to the Minister or his Deputy. Also, knowing a little about modern medicine, I also loaded them up with pads, pens and other simple office supplies. They were so grateful, it was downright humbling.

Dr. Qasim (pictured below) had been one of the few physicians to stay in the area during the horrible times of the post-Soviet civil war and the Taliban invasion. All our expat interpreters admired him very much. They used to tell me that he could have gone to Pakistan, or Europe and become wealthy and been safe, instead he stayed in Parwan, in Afghanistan and helped.

How could you not want to help someone like that?

The first set of otoscopes, stethescopes and blood pressure meters - two of everything, plus gloves, batteries and spare parts.

4 Comments:

Blogger Simon Peter said...

So you ARE a nice guy after all! This is a wonderful story; I'm so glad to hear of this kind of example of human kindness reaching across international borders. I could even like the UN if they did this kind of thing instead of pontificating!

9:03 AM  
Blogger Major John said...

Simon, my Dad did all the hard work (and spent all the money). I still have the document they gave me titled "Need of the Parwan Province" - 7 pages of shortages and construction and education needs.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Simon Peter said...

I could give you a big ol' hug for being such a fine human being. Are you sure you don't want to move to Wisconsin and be a Badger-state blogger? I think you're wasted on Illinois. (It'd also make it easier to meet up for dinner sometime.)

4:43 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Merry Christmas! To you, your dad and all those who work with you.

You are on are minds constantly.

5:01 PM  

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