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UCSF's Chan Returns from Medical Mission in Afghanistan

Albert Chan

(Adapted from an MTI news release) Albert Chan, MD, MS, clinical instructor of pediatrics at UCSF, returned home to San Francisco last week with stories of collaboration and hope in the war-torn country of Afghanistan. Serving as a volunteer with Medical Teams International (MTI), a humanitarian aid agency headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Chan treated dozens of children at CURE Hospital in Kabul. The hospital is one of only a handful of healthcare facilities serving a population of nearly 3 million people. Medical workers lack critically needed medicines, equipment and recent education. Chan, however, found Afghan medical providers excited for the training he provided. "Wars have created a void where an entire generation of physicians in Afghanistan has lost skills," says Chan. "The residents are very bright, but because their medical training has not been updated, patient care has suffered." Often, Afghan children suffer the most. "Most people here are struggling to survive. It's a bit shocking to see people dying from relatively uncomplicated illnesses, but the infrastructure and poverty are so bad things get out of hand before they see a doctor," Chan says. "There were children whom I wanted to admit for weeks of malnutrition therapy, but I couldn't because the parents had no childcare for their other children." Patients travel for hundreds of miles to Kabul to reach the only hospitals available. "I worry most about the patients traveling in overcrowded buses or on the tops of cargo trucks. They sleep in the bombed out remains of buildings around town while they wait to see a doctor," Chan adds. Related Links: San Francisco Doctor Doing His Part to Help Heal Afghanistan San Francisco Chronicle, August 20, 2007 The 3-minute Interview with Dr. Albert Chan San Francisco Examiner, August 13, 2007 American Pediatrician Brings Hope to Afghanistan's Sick and Poor AlertNet, Reuters Foundation, August 10, 2007