The Second Vice President of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danesh, and Princess Zahra Aga Khan on April 24 inaugurated a US $22.8 million hospital that will serve the people of Bamiyan, according to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

The state-of-the-art 141-bed facility places particular emphasis on the needs of women and children, and represents a new chapter for the Bamiyan Provincial Hospital.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Vice-President Danesh said: “It is my deep hope that this new hospital with its expanded facilities will be a role model for health facilities in Afghanistan and will provide essential healthcare to the people of Bamiyan and the neighboring provinces.”

The Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) began operating the Bamiyan Hospital in 2004.  At that time, the Hospital had only 35 beds – 15 of which were housed in a tent.  Medical staff struggled to meet the needs of the population.

As part of a public-private partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, AKHS undertook the challenge of upgrading the hospital. The old facility was expanded to 100 beds, and new equipment was installed.  Training was provided to staff and a steady supply of medicines was stocked.

The impact was remarkable: admissions rose from 1,900 in 2004 to more than 11,000 in 2016; outpatient attendances increased from 43,000 to 175,000; deliveries from 100 to more than 3,000 and the number of major operations from 150 to more than 600.

In response to the clear need for a purpose-built facility, the Bamiyan Provincial Government allocated 6.4 acres of land on the outskirts of the town.  The new hospital was built by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, which specializes in ecologically friendly and seismic resistant construction.  Over half of the facility’s power is supplied by solar panels located on a hilltop behind the hospital.

The construction of the new facility was funded by the Government of Canada (US $17 million), the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (US $3.2 million) and the Government of France (US $2.3 million).  The hospital’s operations continue to be principally funded by the Aga Khan Health Services; since 2004, this funding has amounted to over US $15 million.

AKDN has been active in Bamiyan since 2003.  The upgrading of the hospital is part of the AKDN’s broad contribution to the improvement of health services in Afghanistan, which include the upgrading of health facilities, the training of nurses, midwives and doctors, and wider support for the delivery of quality health services and the rebuilding of the country’s health infrastructure.

The Bamiyan Provincial Hospital and the Faizabad Provincial Hospital in Badakhshan (also operated by AKHS), are the only provincial hospitals in the country to have received ISO-9001 certification.  The French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children in Kabul is managed by the Aga Khan University, having been established through a public-private partnership with the governments of France and Afghanistan, the Aga Khan Development Network and the French NGO La Chaîne de L’Espoir.

Earlier in the day, Princess Zahra Aga Khan met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and First Lady Rula Ghani, Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, and Governor of Bamiyan Mohammad Tahir Zahir.

The Aga Khan Development Network has been committed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan since the beginning of this century, having channeled close to a billion dollars towards the country’s development.

“Through investments in the private sector – telecommunications, hospitality, tourism and microfinance – as well as concurrent investments in the social and cultural sector, including  health systems strengthening; health professionals training including post-graduate medical education and diploma level nursing through the Aga Khan University; primary, secondary education and adult literacy programs; facilitating village community organizations; the restoration of the Bagh-e-Babur gardens and the urban environment around it,” noted Princess Zahra.  “The AKDN seeks to harness and influence the various dimensions of human life such that, together, they chart a course for growth while building social protection.”