"Academic cooperation with the University of Balkh and training and further education of gynecologists at the regional hospital of Mazar-e-Sharif in the German sector in northern Afghanistan"

A cooperation with the NGO University of Balkh, Mazar-e-Sharif

Country: Afghanistan
Project management: Michael Runge
Funding amount: 470,000 euros
Duration: 2014 – 2017
Local project partner: Asmara College of Health Sciences (ACHS),
Orotta Hospital and Medical School, Asmara
Ministry of Health, Asmara, Eritrea
All sponsors: Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst DAAD, Bonn
materra Stiftung Frau und Gesundheit e.V., Freiburg
Deutsch-Afghanischer Ärzteverein, Freiburg
Universitätsklinikum Freiburg
Contact: Michael Runge

In 2013, the Federal Republic was responsible for security in northern Afghanistan as part of the Allied operation. In the same operational area, Germany also promoted the civilian reconstruction of the country. The German Academic Exchange Service DAAD in Bonn is responsible, among other things, for cultural cooperation with Afghanistan. For this reason, he approached the University of Freiburg, materra and the German-Afghan Medical Association in order to establish a university and clinical training cooperation between the University of Balkh and Freiburg. On behalf of the German government, GIZ had rebuilt the destroyed regional hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif and was now to be brought to life as a training clinic for the University of Balkh.

Even in 2014, women still feel safer wearing the burqa

Project goals

-Improving the university practical training of medical students by setting up a skills lab
-Clinical training and further education for gynecologists at the regional hospital
-Development of suitable teaching materials for the specialist curriculum
– On-site teaching and granting of scholarships for hospital executives

The first gynecologists from the regional hospital to take part in our courses in Mazar-e-Sharif


For the implementation of the project in the field of gynecology and obstetrics, a needs analysis lasting several weeks was carried out on site at the university and in the regional hospital. The first teaching units at the hospital began in 2014. The skills lab at the university was completed in 2015 and the academic colleagues were trained on site.

Repeated bomb attacks, including on the hospital grounds, resulted in a travel ban by the Federal Foreign Office for our Freiburg university professors involved. In order not to jeopardize the successfully started project, the senior physicians and chief physicians were invited as opinion multipliers to Freiburg to “Summer” and “Winterschools” based on the English model for two weeks each and were given intensive theoretical and practical instruction at the Freiburg Women’s Clinic ( Michael Runge).

Dr. Nazary from the German-Afghan Medical Association hands over our teaching materials for gynecology and obstetrics produced for Afghanistan at the University of Balkh

In order to ensure sustainability under these changed conditions, we hired a German-Afghan colleague (Dr. Schaima Ghafoorie) to conduct our courses twice a year with a larger audience (40 doctors from northern Afghanistan in Mazar-e-Sharif in repeated four weeks at a time.

In parallel to the theoretical and practical training, the women’s department of the regional hospital was equipped with the technical devices corresponding to the respective course content (e.g. ultrasound, colposcopy, instrumentation, etc.) and trained on site.

The women’s section of the regional hospital had been overcrowded by 140% since 2014 and was far too small to meet the medical needs of the female population. After a new women’s department was deemed unnecessary (!) When the hospital was rebuilt, we were able to record a first success in 2016 through repeated inquiries from the German decision-makers. The new construction of the women’s clinic had finally begun.

Patient room in the gynecology department of the regional hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif

All in all, around 45 specialists in gynecology and obstetrics have received further training and education, student teaching has been improved and the hospital has been technically upgraded to provide care for women and their children.

Contact: Michael Runge

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