Health care in the mountains of Afghanistan can be a challenge, particularly for women and children. Until recently, many areas had only one doctor for every 50,000 inhabitants, midwife training programmes were dormant until the early 2000s and over 90 percent of private pharmaceutical outlets did not have even five essential drugs in stock. Even today, 10 percent of children die before the age of five. An Afghan woman has a 1 in 52 chance of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth. These conditions disproportionately affect remote, rural areas, where health facilities are often inadequate or do not exist at all.
The case for upgrading the provincial Hospital in Bamyan was clear. When the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) took responsibility for the operations of the Bamyan Provincial Hospital in 2004, medical staff at the Hospital’s old facility were struggling to meet the health needs of the community. A new medical facility was needed.
Construction on the new Bamyan Hospital began in 2013, led by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, which specialises in ecologically friendly and seismic-resistant construction. The new facility cost US$22.8 million (30.3 million CAD) to build, of which US$17 million (23 million CAD) was funded by the Government of Canada. Aga Khan Foundation Canada contributed US$3.2 million (4.3 million CAD) to the construction, and the Government of France donated US$2.3 million (3 million CAD). In October 2016, the Hospital services moved from the old to the new premises.
The new 141-bed, state-of-the-art Hospital is designed to be structurally safe, seismic-resistant and highly energy-efficient. The Hospital’s innovative “rammed earth” construction was designed to be both durable and to blend in with the environment. Rammed earth also provides for better insulation. Over half of the new Hospital’s power is supplied by solar panels located on a hilltop behind the Hospital, on a piece of land donated by the Bamyan government.