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ISAF supports Afghan Army medic's work in villages

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A former Mujahidin fighter, now a senior non-commissioned officer in the Afghan National Army (ANA), is bringing medical care to remote villages in central Helmand with the help of ISAF forces.

Dur Mohammad joined the Mujahidin in 1987 to fight the Russian occupation and he’s been fighting ever since. He’s been shot three times and he pulls down his T-shirt to reveal the scar left by a bullet.

When the Russians left, the Taliban came, and, in between fighting, he turned to medicine, training in Kabul.

Dur Mohammad joined the ANA nearly five years ago and for most of that time he has been working on a primary healthcare programme known as Village Medical Outreach (VMO), bringing medicines and treatment to small villages in the area around Camp Bastion.

One village that received his help recently was Habibabad, which, although not far from a patrol base, is surrounded by an area which is far from benign. A US armoured vehicle recently triggered an IED and local insurgents are running a programme of intimidation.

Treatment is hard to find anywhere else. The nearest medical facilities to the village are more than 50 km away at Lashkar Gah, and, with no roads and few vehicles, it is not an easy trip.

Afghan National Army soldiers and gunners from No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment set up a reception area for a primary health care clinic at the village of Habibabad
Afghan National Army soldiers and gunners from No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment set up a reception area for a primary health care clinic at the village of Habibabad [Picture: Wing Commander Steve Dargan, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

The VMO Programme involved Dur Mohammad arriving in a convoy with an outer cordon of armoured vehicles being put in place.

ANA, RAF Regiment and US troops watched the surrounding desert for any sign of impending trouble.

Eventually a lone man carrying a small child appeared in the distance and came towards the red tape forming a barrier around the clinic and waiting area.

Everyone watched and sure enough, he came in, opening the floodgates.

All those wanting treatment, including babies, were searched away from the waiting area, but no-one seemed to mind.

The first patient smiled cheerfully as he went through an airport style search with his little son. First the metal detector, then a thorough pat down by an ANA soldier.

He was then seen in the clinic and given medicine provided by a charity.

Dur Mohammad said:

Most of the patients come with headaches, pains in the stomach, eye complaints, skin complaints. The children have worms and get diarrhoea in the hot weather. We can also perform minor surgery.

Dur Mohammad became a Mujahid, the Arabic for justice- or freedom-fighter, to fight against a foreign invader. When asked why he now works with the ISAF forces, he said:

I joined the army to serve my country. This is different. We are working together for the good of Afghanistan. It’s a really good job. I am happy to help our people.