Utilizing Management Skills to Build Better Hospitals in Afghanistan

Hospital building construction at Sherana Provincial Hospital in Afghanistan. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Like many Afghans, the residents of Paktika province in the country's remote southeast are faced with serious security issues.  With the main road to Kabul going through the neighboring conflict-affected province of Ghazni, the services offered by Sherana Provincial Hospital, Paktika's only referral hospital, are particularly critical.

The Management Sciences for Health-led Technical Support to the Central and Provincial Ministry of Public Health (Tech-Serve) project, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), provides critical management and leadership support to Sherana Provincial Hospital staff. The support is helping improve the hospital's overall performance and the quality of its patient care. Sherana Hospital provides health care services to patients sent by doctors and community health workers from clinics and health posts across the province.

Although the hospital has sufficient space to enable its staff to deliver health care to the community, the building lacks a facility to store important items such as mattresses, bedding, stationery, oil, kerosene, heaters, and other key operational equipment. Most of these items were spread around the hospital, often misplaced and underutilized, impeding the work of medical staff and the delivery of health services.

With no funds from the hospital budget available to build a separate space for storage, Tech-Serve's resident hospital advisor facilitated a series of meetings between hospital management and its community board (made up of key members of the community including elders and local leaders).

The board agreed to build a new logistics store utilizing 15,000AFGs (USD $333) from its remaining pool of unused non-donor funds, and raising additional money through the community in order to meet the shortfall. This enabled the community to take further ownership of one of its most valuable resources.

Construction of the new building was completed earlier this year and is expected to be operational by June. The staff at Sherana Provincial Hospital will be able to provide improved services to its many patients. Together, good management and good medicine improve health outcomes for the people of Afghanistan.

In addition to providing critical management and leadership support to hospital staff to improve hospitals' overall performance and the quality of patient care in Afghanistan, the Tech-Serve project works with the Ministry of Public Health at the central and provincial level to build its capacity to perform its primary function of guiding the health system. Tech-Serve provides ongoing technical assistance in key public health technical areas and engages both central and provincial managers in developing their management and leadership skills to focus on health results and accountability.

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