Coalition Doctors, Medics Work
Together to Save Afghan Lives

By Sgt. Stephanie L. Carl
Special to AFPS

Navy Dr. (Capt.) Jose Acosta, left, and Army Dr. (Maj.) Lance Smith, both assigned to the 325th Combat Support Hospital, remove dead skin from an Afghan boy’s back at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Medical professionals work together and share knowledge to improve medical care throughout Afghanistan.

Photo by Sgt. Stephanie Carl, USA / DoD Photo

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Medical personnel here are passing their knowledge on to Afghan National Army medics, ensuring the Afghans can take care of their own soldiers instead of relying on coalition forces’ assistance.

"Right now, we’re here to help the ANA," said Army Dr. (Maj.) Lance Smith, assigned to the 325th Combat Support Hospital at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. "But we’re working on the long term," including teaching follow-on care that is critical to recovery.

The medical staff instructs the families of patients, interpreters and other medics in the proper way to care for patients after they leave the hospital. Without proper care, patients run the risk of infection, which can be life threatening, especially for children.

When ANA 1st Sgt. Abdul Hai brought his 1-year-old son to Kandahar with third degree burns over 11 percent of his body, ANA medic Gul Nawaz was on hand to learn exactly how he would need to treat the boy after he left the hospital.

"After he leaves the hospital, I will do everything I have learned here," said Nawaz. This includes changing the dressings on the burns, giving medication, monitoring vital signs and checking for infection.

In addition to taking care of Hai’s son, Nawaz is also better prepared to take care of his fellow soldiers. It reassures Hai to know his troops will remain ready to defend Afghanistan. "He will be able to take care of our soldiers," said Hai of Nawaz. "This is important to our country."

Nawaz isn’t the only Afghan learning from coalition experts. Interpreters at the hospital are also learning how to treat patients. "I have been working with the coalition for nearly three years," said Ahamad Ullah Faizi, an interpreter for the hospital.

This helps Faizi in his other job as a principal at a local school. "I am able to talk to my students when they are sick, and I can find out what is wrong with them," he said. With that knowledge, Faizi is able to help his students and their families find treatment for their ailments and injuries.

Everyone working in the hospital knows the importance of passing on their knowledge and takes the time to do what they can to help. "What we’re doing here is crucial to the people of Afghanistan and the patients," said Staff Sgt. Alesia Rice, a licensed practical nurse at the 325th CSH. "The Afghan people … just need someone to teach them. We’re here helping everybody, and in turn, they can help their own."