By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – The International Security Assistance Force has made significant improvements to save what had been a “broken” medical system for treating Afghan security forces, Defense Department officials told a congressional committee today.
David Sedney, DOD’s deputy assistant secretary for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, and Kenneth Moorefield, DOD’s deputy inspector general for special plans and operations, testified about the Dawood National Military Hospital in Kabul before the House Armed Services Committee.
Sedney and Moorefield underscored the need for the Afghan military to maintain a capable and accountable medical system. ISAF’s NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan has strengthened Afghan health systems and will continue to do so, they said.
“Thanks to the response and effort in reforming the health care and medical systems, we are now helping to turn around what had been a broken system -- introducing accountability, standards and stewardship at all levels,” Sedney said.
Over the last several years, Sedney said, coalition medical mentors and advisors highlighted “gross deficiencies” in the system and neglect in operations and basic medical care at Dawood.
Coalition medical mentors and advisers reported these findings and elevated the concerns to NTM-A senior leaders and then- commander Lt. Gen. William Caldwell.
“Recognizing the enormity of the situation, General Caldwell took action,” Sedney said. “He requested the involvement of the DOD IG, Office of Special Plans and Operations, to assess the nationwide medical logistics system in Afghanistan.”
Moorefield testified that the gravity of the matter and complexity of the issues has spurred the DOD IG to undertake a succession of oversight initiatives. Since its February 2011 inspection of the hospital, he said, progress has been made in several areas.
The most significant changes occurred in 2010 and 2011, Moorefield said. Those changes included removing then-hospital commander Afghan Gen. Ahmad Zia Yaftali, developing clearly defined multitier standards and implementing new processes and procedures, he said.
Since executing these changes, there have been no complaints or evidence of patient maltreatment or neglect as of last August, Moorefield added.
The senior leadership of the training mission and the medical advisory group “recognized the critical importance of enabling a system that could provide adequate healthcare to the Afghan security forces,” he added.