A question about doctors in Afghanistan

There are 2 doctors per 100,000 people in Afghanistan, and some provinces have almost no medical professionals. Two days ago, I watched this news video about Afghan medical school graduates being unable to find work in their profession because the cities are too competitive and there’s no money in being a rural doctor.

My question is twofold: is there any large-scale program, governmental or NGO-run, to pay new doctors and midwives well enough to set up and run rural clinics? If there isn’t, why not?

This would seem a very easy way to improve access to basic medical care for some of the most deprived people on the planet. Maybe I am missing a huge, obvious piece of the picture. Please, educate me.

(Hamesha and Harry, I’m looking at you guys.)

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7 thoughts on “A question about doctors in Afghanistan

  1. Not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but the US government has a program called the National Health Service Corps. It provides scholarships and helps with loan repayment if you commit to working in what they call “Health Professional Shortage Areas” for at at least two years.

    http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/index.htm

    • That’s cool, but I meant specifically Afghan doctors in Afghanistan. In the video I watched, Kabul University med school graduates complained that jobs in the cities were too hard to get, and jobs in the provinces were either non-existent or didn’t pay enough.

  2. In my experience, most international donors shy away from paying local workers (in any field) directly. They say it’s “not sustainable”.

  3. By local workers, I mean local persons not working with them directly (i.e., funding government workers, teachers & etc). There are a few programs, though none that I know of for medical professionals (not my field – so they may exist), but the few programs that do exist – those were hard to come by and were very very strongly lobbied for by the country…

    • Sometimes, I really wonder if I’m just a moron and missing something right under my nose. But, at least some of the time, I find out that it’s everyone in general (which, in this case, could include international donors) missing something obvious.

  4. Don’t know about any such programme in Afghanistan, although guess one could argue that that is what all external funding to the MoPH is about.

    Remember talking with a young doctor, newly qualified in Pakistan and just returned to Afghanistan. He was struggling to find work in Kabul (blamed it largely on corruption) but wouldn’t consider working in the provinces as too far away from his family, with bad pay and bad conditions.

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