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Innovating Anatomy Teaching in Afghanistan Dr. Zalmai

The long-lasting war in Afghanistan had its effect on the education of the country. During the war, anatomical dissection on human specimen was prohibited. A major and essential part of the medical education stopped since then. After years of effort, the Anatomy Department of Kabul University of Medical Sciences (KUMS) finally got permission to practice anatomical dissection on human specimen. This was a major milestone for the medical basic education of Afghanistan. KUMS requested KEIHAN Foundation to support the dissection programme.

KEIHAN Foundation was founded in 2005 by Afghan students based in Leiden, the Netherlands. Next to different projects such as the Academic Exchange Medicine programme, the Anatomy programme had its onset in 2009. KEIHAN Foundation managed to facilitate and organize this project, under supervision of Dr. E. Mahtab, cardio-thoracic surgeon and co-founder of KEIHAN Foundation. In collaboration with IOM and Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), this project is making great progress..

Dr. Zalmai, lecturer and head of the Anatomy department in KUMS

Through the projects of KEIHAN Foundation, IOM hopes to contribute and build a bridge between researchers in the Netherlands and Afghanistan. The CD4D project facilitates study trips to the Netherlands to enable medical experts to gain specific work experience. Via CD4D Dr. Zalmai, lecturer and head of the Anatomy department in KUMS, was invited to the LUMC for a training period to learn the anatomical preparation and dissection processes.

Previously between 2009 and 2018 KEIHAN Foundation and partners realized preliminary steps of this project: i.a. training the first anatomy lecturer from KUMS at LUMC and setting up of a media library with e-learning at the KUMS.

Anatomy is essential in the education of medical students. Functional anatomy is crucial in locating the site of illness and diagnosing a disease. Without knowledge of anatomy, education of medical specialists is impossible. Imagine the result of an operation performed by a surgeon who has never before felt natural tissue and whose only anatomical knowledge is based on books and plastic models. This has been the case for almost all young doctors in Afghanistan at the start of their clinical career.

During his two-month stay in Leiden, Dr. Zalmai was trained by professionals of the LUMC to re-introduce anatomical techniques in Afghanistan.

In March 2019, during a ceremony at the Embassy of the I.R. of Afghanistan in The Hague, Dr. Zalmai received his certificate for completing the training successfully.

I’m grateful to KEIHAN foundation, LUMC and IOM for organizing this project and inviting me to the Netherlands. This project is essential for the development of the medical curriculum at KUMS. I hope to see PhD and master programmes offered for Afghan students and young professionals in the future.

The re-introduction of anatomical dissection has been a logical next step in innovation process of anatomy curriculum of the KUMS. It is also an important step in the partnership and cooperation in higher education between the Netherlands and Afghanistan.

Anatomy is essential in the education of medical students. Functional anatomy is crucial in locating the site of illness and diagnosing a disease.

Credits:

©IOM