Away from the security and normalcy of their homes, over 100 doctors from India are busy nursing the sick and the wounded in Afghanistan.
Cardiologists, general physicians, orthopaedics, paediatricians and radiologists from all over India have made strife-torn Afghanistan their new, even if temporary, homes.
Paediatrician RK Singh has been stationed at the Institute of Child Health in Kabul for 11 months now. “The hospital was built by the Indian government in 1971 and run by a team of doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) till the Taliban took over.”
“After 2001, Indian doctors returned. Now we have six doctors in Kabul and nine more in the cities of Heart, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazhar e Sharief,’’ Singh told HT.
Post-Taliban, what began as an Indian government initiative spread to the private sector. “Max, Escorts and Apollo have opened branches in Kabul in collaboration with local players. The Hyderabad-based Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) set up the first MRI laboratory in the private sector here last month,’’ said an Indian Embassy official.
Till the lab was set up, patients had to visit either Pakistan or India to simply get an MRI scan done.
Sumit Aggarwal of Apollo said the clinic caters to 20 patients per day on an average. “We do not operate here but carry out consultations. If some patient wants to go to India for treatment, we facilitate,’’ the cardiologist said.
Most Indian doctors come to Afghanistan for a one-to-two year period. Usually, it is a non-family posting with extra money and perks. In spite of the faith that the people of Afghanistan have on them, the doctors have to be careful about security.
“There is no life after work. Our lab is on the first floor and we stay on the floor above. We also follow guidelines issued by our Embassy. But the love and affection of the locals make it worth every second. And home is just an hour-and-a-half away,’’ summed up Pankaj, working at the KIMS lab.