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Acting Minister of Public Health Dr. Suraya Dalil Visits Washington DC

 

Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Public Health, Dr. Suraya Dalil, visited Washington DC from September 15-17, 2010. The main purpose of her visit was to participate in and speak about Afghanistan’s health-care sector achievements and challenges on a high-level panel, followed by the screening of “No Woman, No Cry,” a documentary by renowned supermodel Christy Turlington Burn about portrayal of at-risk pregnant women in Asia, Africa, and North America. The event also promoted the importance of implementing the objectives of the MDG Five-Year Countdown Summit of global leaders in New York on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly. Other panelists included World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, U.S. Representative Nita Lowey, and United Nations Population Fund Deputy Executive Director.

 

Minister Dalil eloquently discussed the progress Afghanistan has made in reducing the country’s high rates of maternal and infant mortality. She said that the introduction of the basic package of health services, as a national program in the wake of the fall of the Taliban, had been one of Afghanistan’s major successes. The Minister noted that access to basic health-care had increased for more than half of the Afghan population, which her Ministry works hard, in partnership with the international community, to maintain and to improve the quality of services. Moreover, she noted that while the Ministry of Public Health is responsible for the stewardship and monitoring of the program, national and international NGOs are employed to implement the program. She said this joint mode of service delivery had proved very effective, which can serve as a model for other Ministries to consider, in light of the recommendations of the recent Kabul Conference.

 

Minister Dalil also held meetings with senior officials of the USAID, and spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center to discuss ways to improve health-care policy formulation and co-implementation. She was joined in her meetings and discussions with Deputy Chief of Mission M. Ashraf Haidari and First Secretary Qadir Nur. Mr. Haidari highlighted the importance of human security to protective security, which he repeatedly argued was underinvested from the very beginning. He recommended that the development community in Afghanistan should work in close partnership with the security community to ensure that Afghanistan’s multifaceted security needs are effectively addressed.  

 

Minister Dalil concluded her visit with a number of media interviews. She spoke to the National Public Radio and Voice of America to discuss the challenges that still confront the people of Afghanistan in health sector. While thanking the people of the United States for their continued assistance, she assured them that their aid monies, particularly in the health-care sector, were saving thousands of lives in Afghanistan everyday.  

 

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