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US-Funded Hospital in Afghanistan Has 3 Light Bulbs, Forces Staff to Wash Newborns in River Water

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: abuse, Afghanistan, corruption, dishonesty, Children at risk, foreign assistance, taxpayers' money )

- 1574 days ago -
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction finds shocking conditions at a facility built with US taxpayer money.

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Kit B (276)
Thursday January 30, 2014, 7:50 pm
Photo Credit: SIGAR/Flickr

A hospital in Afghanistan's Parwan province, which cost US taxpayers almost $600,000, is so ill-equipped, hospital staff are washing newborn infants using untreated river water, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported on Wednesday. SIGAR's visit, which was conducted in November 2013 (photos here), also found mold and mildew throughout the hospital; a lack of furniture and equipment; a serious risk for earthquake damage; and only enough electricity to operate three light bulbs in the entire facility.

In 2009, a local Afghan contractor, Shafi Hakimi Construction Company, was commissioned to build Salang Hospital as part of a Department of Defense-funded reconstruction program. When a US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) task force first inspected the hospital when it was under construction in 2012, they determined it had major problems and residents of Salang district wouldn't have adequate healthcare until they were fixed. In November 2012, the contractor was paid in full. But when SIGAR inspected a year later, it found "the deficiencies identified by the task force had not been corrected."

NBC News, which recently visited the facility, observed "desperate" hospital staff attempting to administer dental care to a 12-year-old girl—even though they only had access to six pieces of rusty dental equipment. As NBC described it: "The girl was shivering with fear, and began crying after the doctor gave her a shot in her gums. Another man held her still as Sarwy swiftly tilted her head back, opened her mouth and yanked out one of her teeth with a pair of pliers."

Hospital staff told SIGAR that they are paying about $18 a month of their own money to a neighbor, in order to get enough electricity to operate the three light-bulbs in the hospital. Additionally, SIGAR found that the contractor built the hospital two stories high, instead of one, without authorization from US officials or further study. "The hospital does not serve the medical needs of the people of Salang district as intended and may be a danger to its patients and staff because of the potential for the structure’s collapse in an earthquake," the report reads.

This account differs sharply with a press release put out by US Forces-Afghanistan yesterday, which argued that despite the SIGAR report, "the facility is currently providing improved medical services" and noted that, "local ministry officials are currently in the process of hiring a surgeon and other staff and have installed a solar power generation unit." John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, told NBC, "either no one from USFOR-A has actually visited this facility recently or USFOR-A is living in an alternate reality."

Mother Jones has reached out to US Forces-Afghanistan to find out when they last visited the facility. According to a January 21 US Army document obtained by Mother Jones, US forces have been unable to conduct a physical re-inspection of the hospital since the SIGAR notified them of their findings on January 3, due to "reduced combat forces [and] threats in the area." ​

By: Dana Liebelson | Reporter | Mother Jones Magazine |

Dana Liebelson is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Her work has also appeared in The Week, TIME's Battle land, Truth-out, Other Words and Yahoo! News.

Rose Becke (141)
Friday January 31, 2014, 1:23 am

Mike M (40)
Friday January 31, 2014, 10:23 am
It only goes to show how the America people get screwed by the government and its contractors and how we say we are helping but just blowing smoke to the people who really need help and screwing them too

JL A (281)
Friday January 31, 2014, 11:04 am
Another example of Defense Dept. misspent funds with major waste for our money

Lucas Kolasa (9)
Friday January 31, 2014, 11:14 am

Sheila D (194)
Friday January 31, 2014, 11:24 am
Strange, isn't it, that foreign aid seems to funnel straight through to military, but gets misdirected when it comes to humanitarian help...

Barbara K (60)
Friday January 31, 2014, 1:55 pm
Corruption gone wild?

Birgit W (160)
Friday January 31, 2014, 2:01 pm
Horrible. Where does all the money go?

Sara V (0)
Friday January 31, 2014, 2:48 pm
The problem with aid is that when you build and equip a facility that the area did not support before, how can the area be expected to support it in the future? It isn't sustainable for the locals' resources, so it degenerates as soon as the funding is cut.

Very interesting that they are providing our servicemen and women with propaganda saying that "the facility is currently providing improved medical services" and "local ministry officials are currently in the process of hiring a surgeon and other staff and have installed a solar power generation unit."

Tanya Selth (0)
Friday January 31, 2014, 2:55 pm
"According to a January 21 US Army document obtained by Mother Jones, US forces have been unable to conduct a physical re-inspection of the hospital since the SIGAR notified them of their findings on January 3, due to "reduced combat forces [and] threats in the area." ​

Someone should be held accountable for this mess!! and I think it should be whoever was overseeing all this.

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday January 31, 2014, 3:14 pm
Noted. Thanks for this info, Kit. So sorry to read that it is "business as usual" in Afghanistan. What an absolute mess! But, we knew that before invading, didn't we? We all knew it would be a money pit and there would be little, if any, success.....probably just make things even worse. We knew it was "the graveyard of Empires".....did we think we would be immune to failure? We have thrown billions of our tax dollars into it for over 12 years. It is well past time to end this.
It's particularly offensive to me that we not only can't get it right in Afghanistan, but all the money we're spending here is denying our infrastructure, education, health care.....improvements. Ah! But the rich are making millions from war profits, as are the profiteering corporations. So, looks like it's still a stalemate.....

Debra Tate (17)
Friday January 31, 2014, 3:53 pm
Noted! These contractors should never of been paid until the building had been inspected! Shame on our Gov't funding dept! More $$ wasted on something done half a$$ed! Probably another potus friend, just like those who built Obamacare!

JL A (281)
Friday January 31, 2014, 6:49 pm
The evidence of contract awarded in 2009 means that the requests for bids work would have been done or at least begun in 2008--the election year when it was under the prior administration.

Sheryl G (363)
Friday January 31, 2014, 6:50 pm
Over and over again, this same thing happens. Money funneled into a Country to improve things and all it does is go into the hands of a few people who become very rich. I've placed similar stories on here of McMansions that are being built for the few who shifted the money right into their pockets while the town is still without running water or the bride is in need of repairs.

$600,000 in their prices should be a state of the art facility there today. When our troops are used correctly they could of built that facility and furnished it, then seen to it that the correct staff was hired. Meanwhile DC is broken, nothing gets done except to slash more safety net programs to our poor, and the most in need in the Afghan countryside didn't get the help they were promised. I'm disgusted with the whole lot of them in DC with few exceptions......I'm disgusted that this so called "privatized everything" has played the majority as fools at the great wealth going to a few at the top of our Country and other places.

Janis K (126)
Friday January 31, 2014, 7:07 pm
Amazing and appalling! thanks for posting

Jason R (67)
Friday January 31, 2014, 10:09 pm
Systematic looting.

Sara V (0)
Friday January 31, 2014, 10:40 pm
"I'm disgusted that this so called "privatized everything" has played the majority as fools at the great wealth going to a few at the top of our Country and other places. "

I don't know how anyone can call it "privatized everything." More and more arenas are not private, but government-backed. Agriculture (farm bills supporting GMOs), much of the health care industry, schools, the stock market (QE), the banks (more QE), mortgages, student loans - are all supported through government by public dollars. You could say that the private sector is invading government, or that the government is levering the private sector. Either way, it is not a free market. Private businessmen head many government agencies and make use of government programs to benefit their companies. They flock around the military as well - as Eisenhower said "Beware the military-industrial complex!" I think it would be best to yank funding from all of them. No farm bill, no bailouts. Let them all go home and get a real job/do something productive.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday February 1, 2014, 6:33 am
If this doesn't make you cringe...! Thx taxpayers, great job!

Sheryl G (363)
Saturday February 1, 2014, 8:50 am
While I understand the concept of which you speak Sara, at this stage of the game that is far from being possible to do overnight. That was a system pretty much what all indigenous had throughout the world, the people of the rain forest, the aboriginal of Australia, and the American Indian.

That even the Chief was no more or less important than the newborn baby and that people lived and worked in a cooperative Circle of life. One didn't need a big Government because there was built within the system from birth to grave a system of respect and checks and balances, but likewise you also didn't have this for profit of living system either. No one hoarded the animals, all roamed freely, plants grew either wild or if they were in fact cultivated no one took anything that they truly did not need, not one peach more not one deer extra was to be hunted and killed.

People lived in small tribal societies, they ate locally, lived locally, and supported one another, so that if one of them were hungry they were all hungry. No one had a lot more than the other and if someone needed a horse or blanket it would be given to them. The Elders were secure in their later years, they had a spot within society as the story tellers and or watched the children while the more youthful ones hunted and gathered berries. It was a circular system, smaller tribes would meet at certain times within the seasonal year, to exchange goods and enjoy time with each other in dance and song. Those who lived near the rivers traded fish and the others offered buffalo meat. Tribes along the seashore offered shells and to those inland offered what was unique to their was considered to be fair exchange.......not who was going to become wealthy off of the other person.

So today you have for profit private business and you have Government and when one or the other becomes too powerful you loose the "balance of power" you can't shrink one, say the Government to fit in the bathtub as the other, "private" will have a field day and rob the eyes out of the people's heads, as it is has been over and over proven historically that people do not self govern themselves well when it is winner takes all or a for profit motive behind it. People only govern themselves well when it is built within the structure of society from cradle to grave, is kept small and local, and unfortunate with this "global" economy we've grown further and further from that, and the few remaining tribal systems that are left are up against the odds from the "private" for profit companies.

So what I was referring to, it would of been better for the soldiers that are on a set wage, that had some kind of a chain of command to use the funds and build the hospital out of tax monies that they were already being paid for being over there. I'd rather they be building hospitals and winning hearts and minds than going into the homes fighting and putting fear into the citizens. This money therefore ended up into the "private" hands of the people that were living over there or some foreign contractor and therefore the people there were not helped and our soldiers get a bad reputation when they could of been used to build something wonderful of which I am sure they'd felt better about too.

So what is worse if you have a too big of a privatized for profit system and a small Government that fits in the bathtub or a too big of a Government that controls all aspects of private life. Well I'll leave the quote below as to what is worse. And this is the problem I'm seeing in the USA is that some people want no Government but fail to see that with no Government you get run a way Capitalism that only benefits the ones on the top of the heap and if you have too much Government then we have people wanting to dictate what you eat, if you can have a certain medical procedure or not, and one that can just drain the life out of you. There is no balance there if it is too much power one way or the needs balance between private and Government unless we are all in immediate agreement that we want to live as the American Indians did, and I'm all for that, count me in, but that would mean 100% must go that way......I don't see it today nor for years to come frankly. But I dream. So what is worse?

"Fascism should more properly be called Corporatism because it is the merger of State and Corporate power." Benito Mussolini

And that my dear is the problem we face. When both are powerful entities and get in bed with each other and forget about the common people or the masses. By eliminating one or the other doesn't solve anything that one needs to address the corruption in BOTH places.

Too many people are poking each other in the eyes and failing to see the root of the issue. Until the masses see that both private and Government and Government that waves both the red flag and the blue flag has been failing and corrupt then we will not get anywhere too fast to end this ongoing corruption that has deeply embedded itself into our society not just in the USA but around the world. But as we have the largest military, the largest economy, our presence of failure is felt around the world.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Saturday February 1, 2014, 9:07 am
The sad part is that in many of these countries the aid never reaches the people. It goes into the pockets of corrupt contractors and politicians like the US's favorite lap dog Karzai.
This is why I only fund certain charitable agencies that I have personally vetted up the ying yang. If it doesn't meet my criteria and get a CRA approval it's not getting my money.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Saturday February 1, 2014, 9:09 am
Besides, there's enough of a need right here at home so if you're thinking of donating the ratio should be 70% Domestic and 30% International when it comes to donations. Charity after all does begin at home.

Arlene C (42)
Saturday February 1, 2014, 5:23 pm
partage vos opinions

Vallee R (280)
Monday February 3, 2014, 1:32 pm
Theodore - you are so correct - tons of money that we the people donated to the red Cross for Haiti never made it there! I am done with the Red Cross and most big companies.
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