Rebuilding Afghanistan

By: Amy Gleason
By: Amy Gleason

For six weeks, Dr. Richard Yoder worked with a multi-national team to help rebuild Afghanistan's health care system. He says in all of his travels, he's never seen a country so willing to learn and so hopeful for the future.

"Afghan is one of these place that in the past 25 years has not only not advanced socially and economically," said Dr. Yoder. "It is going backwards."

The Taliban helped in that effort. Women were no longer allowed to go into public and the schools and hospitals began to close.

"Most of the primary school teachers were women. Many of the physicians and nurses were women," added Yoder. "That's why you had schools close down. Nobody to teach them. That's why you had health care facilities shut down, because it was many of the women that worked there."

But now change is on the way. Richard Yoder is helping rebuild the country's health care system.

"How do you organize a country's health care system? How do you manage it? How do you pay for it?" asked Yoder.

He says the answer is to capitalize on the strengths of the health care already in place, as well as get funding for the basics.

"If you immunize a child for $10, you can in that immunization, pretty much insure that that child will live to a reasonable life expectancy," said Yoder.

Rebuilding the health care system and the country for that matter won't happen overnight. But Yoder says at least now, there is the hope and security to do so.

"We sang and danced and just had a wonderful time. eight-months ago, that wouldn't have happened under the Taliban," said Yoder.

Yoder says it was very humbling that the Afghans had so much faith in the group's work. He added that it put a lot of pressure on them not to screw it up.

Dr. Yoder is a business professor at Eastern Mennonite University.

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