The Foundation Ceremony of the new Women’s Wing at the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) today, marked the start of construction for a new obstetrics and gynaecology wing on the hospital premises that will provide high quality care for mothers and newborns in Afghanistan. The building, which will take 24 months to complete, will offer 52 additional beds for obstetric and gynecologic care and a 14-bed neonatal intensive care unit — the first in Afghanistan.
His Excellency Karim Khalili vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, and His Excellency Laurent Fabius Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic were the guest for the occasion.
In a speech at the ceremony the Aga Khan hailed the FMIC’s standards of excellence and said the facility was making Afghanistan’s health care system more self-reliant.
“What all of this means for Afghanistan, quite simply, is that people here no longer need to feel they must venture outside the country in order to get quality health care,” he said adding that he regarded the FMIC and its expansion as part of broader effort to bring quality medical care not only to Afghanistan but also the neighbouring areas. He also announced longer-term plans to build on a plot adjacent to the hospital an international medical centre serving the entire region.
The hospital’s new US$ 17.7 million wing will be financed by the Government of France (US$ 11.7 million) and the Aga Khan Development Network (US$ 6 million). The start of the services is planned for early 2015. A dedicated team from FMIC and the Aga Khan University (AKU) will oversee the progress of the project.
France’ foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, described the Kabul hospital and its staff as exemplary. He said he was greeted at the hospital door by a five-year old girl who had an open heart surgery just days ago. “What other justification does one need?” he said.
Afghanistan’s vice president, Karim Khalili, also lauded FMIC’s work. “FMIC has achieved many successes since its inception and has achieved excellence in many fields in healthcare in Afghanistan,” he said. .
The French Medical Institute for Children, inaugurated in 2006, is a public-private partnership between the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Government of France, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the French organization “La Chaîne de l’Espoir”. The Hospital is managed and operated by the Aga Khan University (AKU), which is an agency of The AKDN.
In a brief address at the foundation ceremony the president of La Chaine de l’Espoir, Dr Eric Cheysson described the occasion as a moment of “great emotion, honour and a fulfillment of a dream.”
In the last six years, FMIC has introduced advanced techniques in pediatric care, such as pediatric cardiac surgery, spine surgery and laparoscopic surgeries for children. In 2009, the services of the FMIC were certified as compliant with ISO 9001:2008 standards, which reflects their quality. The FMIC has also started its first Post Graduate Medical Education (PGME) programs in pediatric medicine and pediatric surgery in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Health and the AKU in Karachi, Pakistan. The hospital is also the hub for telemedicine activities in the country, providing services to hospitals in Bamyan and Faizabad.
The introduction of the new obstetric and gynecology services follows the initial plan of the partners to establish a comprehensive Mother and Child Hospital, to respond to the needs of the Afghan population in health care. The principles of capacity building for local health care providers, which has been established at the FMIC will be maintained and extended to services for the care of women and newborns country wide.