Korea education and medical support to ParwanBy Vanessa Villarreal, USFOR-A, Public Affairs Office

Bagram Airfield, March 18, 2015 – Leaders from Parwan Province joined leaders at Bagram Air Field for an appreciation ceremony today to thank the Republic of Korea for its tireless medical and educational support to the Parwan community. Notable attendees at the event included Parwan Provincial Governor Abdul Basir Salangi, Bagram District Governor Abdul Shukour Qudusi, and Parwan Director of Health Mohammad Qasim Sayedi.

This June, the Bagram Korean Hospital will close – a facility that’s cared for almost 300,000 patients, along with an educational center that’s trained over 900 students.
“For the past five years, the Republic of Korea Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and its successor, the Korea Bagram Office, achieved remarkable progress moving towards peace and reconstruction in Parwan by providing medical care and educational opportunities for the people of Afghanistan,” Commander Maj. Gen. John Murray, Bagram Airfield, said. “They have established one of the most capable hospitals in the country, providing an exceptionally high level of care for approximately 300,000 patients.”

According to Bagram Korean Hospital (BKH) Deputy Director Chung WonChin, in October 2009, the Korean government, responding to the community’s call for help, decided to actively participate in the international peace and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Korea selected Parwan, a province with a population of more than 642,000, for its PRT because it lacked basic infrastructure and was in great need of development assistance.

“I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the Republic of Korea for their kindness and cooperation to all the sectors in Afghanistan, particularly the Parwan Province,” Salangi, who gave the keynote address, said. “This hospital has done a lot for the poor people who haven’t been able to pay for services. I want to thank the Korean friends for their compassion and selfless support.”

At its peak, the hospital touted a staff of eleven doctors – six from Korea and five from Afghanistan – with 200 to 300 patients coming through its doors daily. Now, a staff of eight doctors sees about 100 patients daily.
In addition to the hospital, the PRT established a vocational training center that graduated over 900 students in the following disciplines – automotive work, construction, welding & plumbing, electrical, and computer application.

“This education has enabled these students to start their own businesses, contributing greatly to the growth, stability, and economic viability of Parwan and the surrounding provinces,” Murray said.

“You have each made a profound difference in the lives of people who had no other alternative to the medical care you brought to Afghanistan,” Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, principal officer to U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, said. “You cured the sick, brought hope to the poor, and inspired us to be better persons and to do more to help our fellow man on our shared journey to make our small planet a place where our children and all future generations can realize and cherish their dreams and hopes for a more prosperous tomorrow.”

Jongik Kim, director of BKH, said the mission was a success.

“The Bagram Korean Hospital has provided quality primary and surgical care responding to the needs of the Afghan people,” Kim said. “I think it was a successful mission with Afghanistan, Korea, and the United States.”

Before taking the time to honor hospital personnel with awards, representative Myoung-Joon Kim of the Bagram Office of the Republic of Korea thanked his staff members and partners.

“I want to take this opportunity to compliment each and every one of our staff members,” he said. “And it’s not just us that made all of this possible. The U.S. forces and the coalition forces have provided us exemplary cooperation and coordination.”
The equipment from the hospital will remain in Afghanistan so it can be used by Afghan doctors, nurses, and technicians.

“Today we say farewell and thank you to our Korean partners, job exceptionally well done,” Murray said. “We sincerely hope they leave Afghanistan knowing they have had a very positive impact on countless Afghans throughout Parwan and the surrounding provinces. Although they will be gone, the memory of the good they have done here in Afghanistan will live on.”