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New Hospital Symbolizes Afghan Progress in South

By Spc. Jon H. Arguello, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

QALAT, Afghanistan, Jan. 26, 2006 – Few infrastructure projects inject the Afghan people with as much hope for a stable and healthy life for their families as a new hospital. Along with many of the new roads and bridges built during reconstruction, a new hospital will now bring that hope to the people of southern Afghanistan.

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Army Maj. John Drobnica, the Qalat provincial reconstruction team's doctor, inspects one of the Zabul Regional Teaching Hospital's new incubators during a tour of the Afghan facilities Jan. 12. U.S. Army photo

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The new Zabul Regional Teaching Hospital is located between Kabul and Kandahar and will provide the middle provinces of Afghanistan with a full-service hospital with state-of-the-art equipment, Qalat's provincial reconstruction team commander said during a tour of the hospital this week with local and international officials.

"But this hospital is more than a place for Afghans throughout Zabul province to seek health care," Army Lt. Col. Thomas Goodfellow, said. "It's a milestone symbolizing the strong foundation being built, on which a future prosperous, secure and healthy nation will grow."

The hospital was built with funds provided by the United Arab Emirates. Local contractors built the facility and installed the $4 million worth of equipment, which Qalat PRT soldiers and United Arab Emirates forces escorted from Kandahar Airfield.

"The complete project was a classic example of interagency cooperation," Goodfellow said. "The Qalat PRT, Afghan Ministry of Health, U.A.E embassy staff and U.A.E. forces, technicians from India, and Charlie Company medical staff from the 173rd Support Battalion on (Kandahar Air Field) played important roles in the successful project."

The new facility can hold up to 130 patients and includes a Level 1 trauma center, the highest possible classification of care. It also has major and minor surgery facilities and care perform pediatric and neo-natal care, and full-service dental care. The hospital is truly a sign of progress for the Afghan people, the colonel said.

"The people of Afghanistan will be forever grateful to all involved in building this hospital," Zabul's provincial governor, Arman, said. "The facility is very impressive, and it's beautiful to see where the country is going."

Goodfellow agreed with the governor's assessment. "The local populace sees the provincial government moving the region in a positive direction. That's invaluable here, whether it's with a hospital or bridge or school," he said.

"There's more to a hospital than health care," Goodfellow noted. "A hospital brings people hope, and hope can turn into vision. If we can get all Afghans to share a common vision, there's no end to what Afghanistan can do for itself."

(Army Spc. Jon H. Arguello is assigned to Task Force Bayonet.)

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Combined Forces Command Afghanistan

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Lt. Col. Thomas Goodfellow, commander of the Qalat provincial reconstruction team, and Gulab Shaw, chief of staff to the local provincial governor, inspect the new dental equipment at Zabul Regional Teaching Hospital during a tour of the facilities in Qalat, Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. Jon H. Arguello, USA  
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