FMIC Kabul, Afghanistan: Hafiza Ukani and Shireen Alwani (both Alumnae of Aga Khan University) travelled to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2016 for a TKN assignment with the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children (FMIC). FMIC operates through an innovative four-way partnership between the Government of Afghanistan, the Government of France, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the French NGO, La Chaîne de l’Espoir. The Aga Khan University manages FMIC on behalf of AKDN.

Hafiza and Shireen delivered training to FMIC nurses for Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS). Prior to this, FMIC did not have any formal training or certification programs for BLS, PALS or ACLS. Planning for these three courses started well in advance of their arrival in Kabul. Hafiza and Shireen were engaged in regular communication with former FMIC Nursing Director, Rashida Merchant, to finalize specific details for the three courses to ensure that the training sessions and exams would be implemented effectively. They also sent advance pre-reading materials and tests to facilitate preparation for participants who would attend these courses. When they went to Kabul, Hafiza and Shireen brought with them training mannequins and other medical supplies donated by Cedars Sinai Medical Centre.

Thirteen staff attended the training sessions during their 10-day visit. Participants included Nursing Education Service Instructors, ER and ICU charge nurses, and doctors (Pediatrician, Intensivist and Internal Medicine). They all participated in both the didactic and skills segments of the program and passed the required exams and skills check off. American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines and materials were used for the entire training program. On completion, FMIC awarded certificates of successful completion to the participants. In addition, nine participants were also certified as Instructors, which qualified them to continue delivering the training program after Hafiza’s and Shireen’s departure. These instructors were able to certify both FMIC staff and staff from other government hospitals in Kabul.  FMIC is now also the training centre for surrounding government hospitals.

In 2018, Hafiza and Shireen delivered an online refresher course and exam to FMIC staff and renewed their certification. They also remain in constant touch with the FMIC instructors to keep them current on new knowledge and skills to enable staff to provide safer and better patient care.

AKMC Khorog, Tajikistan: In April 2019, Hafiza and Shireen travelled to Tajikistan to serve with the newly established Aga Khan Medical Centre in Khorog (AKMC-K). Hafiza was on site for one month and Shireen was on location for two weeks.

Hafiza delivered Basic Life Support (BLS) training to all AKMC clinical staff (medical and nursing) as they had not previously received BLS training or certification, which is an essential requirement for clinical staff in a medical facility. She used AHA teaching materials (course, videos and tests) for the BLS training sessions and had also brought with her (from the USA) mannequins and other required supplies received through donations. AKMC administration and IT staff provided excellent logistics and technical support to set up and organize the classes. Over the one-month period, 75 hospital staff (which included doctors, nurses and technicians) completed the BLS training and were tested and certified. Hafiza also trained five staff members as instructors who initially taught classes alongside her. By the end of the month, all five instructors conducted independent classes (under Hafiza’s observation) and received their instructor certification.

In addition to the above training, Hafiza trained and certified 10 local ambulance doctors and nurses with excellent support from an AKMC Anesthetist who was a member of the BLS instructor team.  Hafiza also delivered this course to 12 Jamati volunteers. Since language was a barrier because English was not their first language, one participant in each class spoke English and acted as an interpreter.  Participants expressed their gratitude during their certification ceremony and said that this training was a “God sent blessing” for them.

Based on a comprehensive needs assessment she undertook, Shireen Alwani delivered training to AKMC nurses in the following clinical procedures during her two-week visit: Female Catheterization; Nasogastric Tube Insertion; Intravenous Infusion; Blood Transfusion; Calculating Drop Rate; Operating new IV Infusion and Blood Transfusion Sets; and, Drug Calculations. Shirin was very impressed with the staff’s enthusiasm and strong desire to acquire new skills and knowledge.

FMIC in Kabul and AKMC in Khorog are immensely grateful to Hafiza Ukani and Shireen Alwani for their exemplary commitment and outstanding contribution before, during and after their visits to Kabul and Khorog.  The dedication of both TKN volunteers in diligently planning their training before departure, professional delivery of their courses while on location, and ongoing communication with the local teams is highly commendable and inspiring.

Both assignments were very rewarding and memorable experiences for Hafiza and Shireen, and they deeply appreciate their TKN opportunities and the warm hospitality at FMIC and AKMC-K.  Hafiza and Shireen state, “Our TKN experiences were professionally fulfilling and personally enriching. The opportunity to make a meaningful difference through these exciting assignments has been a special blessing for us, for which we are incredibly grateful. We also really appreciate the amazing support and encouragement we received from our families to serve on these assignments”