Delivering health in conflict: A different approach in Afghanistan

A health worker checks a patient’s blood pressure in Afghanistan. Photo by: SAW Afghanistan / Cordaid

BARCELONA — To help build trust with local communities in Afghanistan, Albert van Hal spends most of his time talking to local leaders — something that has proved fundamental to his work aiming to support stronger health systems in the country.

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“I think that’s crucial in a fragile state. It requires enormous amounts of time and talking to build trust because it’s broken. It’s all gone after so many years of conflict,” said van Hal, advocacy coordinator and program manager for fragile states for Cordaid, an organization for relief and development aid.

Conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan are lagging behind in many ways, but particularly in terms of access to health care, he said. The Dutch organization has been providing health care services and working with local organizations since 2003. In addition, it trains midwives, nurses, and laboratory — and pharmacy technicians to help support the health system.

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About the author

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    Natalie Donback

    Natalie Donback is an Editorial Associate and Reporter at Devex. She holds a bachelor's degree in development studies from Lund University and a master's in journalism. She has worked in documentary filmmaking and as a freelance journalist covering politics and culture in Swedish, English, and Spanish. She is now based in Barcelona and produces content for digital content series and media partnerships.