Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

How Afghanistan Wants Japan to Help
Ahmadyar Akbar / Afghan medical doctor

December 25, 2009
I am an Afghan doctor who has been in Japan for 20 years. Born in Afghanistan, I graduated from Kabul Medical College and worked in the countryside. I came to Japan in 1989 at the time when the Josai Hospital started accepting the Afghan civilians injured in the fighting under the Soviet military occupation and supported their treatment and rehabilitation. At present, I am on the staff of this hospital in Yuki City, Ibaraki Prefecture, and help support the medical activities of the Japan International Friendship and Welfare Foundation (JIFF) attached to the hospital.

This Foundation used to work to help Afghan refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan. It then relocated its clinic to Kabul in 2001, when the refugees began to return home, sent Japanese doctors and nurses there and engaged in medical services in cooperation with the local staff. They are now treating nearly 400 patients every day. As I am going back and forth between Japan and Afghanistan, doing my medical word, I know and want to tell you what the Afghan people are expecting from Japan.

What is most urgently needed in Afghanistan is to restore law and order and for this reason, the top priority should be given to the stabilization of people's lives. If the people find a sure means of making their living, they will be freed from poverty and dissatisfaction, and therefore, have no reason to join terrorist organizations. What then is needed to secure their living? I would say three things: namely, water supply, education and medical care.

First and foremost is the water supply. About 80% of the Afghan people make their living by agriculture and raising cattle. Afghanistan is located in the mountain ranges of Central Asia and the arable land accounts for only 13% of its territory. Although there is enough rainfall and snow to cultivate the crops and produce the feeds for the cattle, many years of war have destroyed the irrigation systems, making it impossible to control the water supply. Rain and melted snow are simply soaked up by the desert, giving rise to a chronic water shortage.

The farmers, therefore, cannot rise out of poverty. This situation makes them dissatisfied with the government, driving them either to help the terrorist organizations or to turn a blind eye to them, which in turn aggravates the security situation. In order for the Afghans to make good use of water, it is necessary to build dams and irrigation channels to collect water and use it wisely. In this way, the life of farmers can be improved greatly. We earnestly look to Japan for technical assistance to this end.

Next comes education assistance. In Afghanistan, about half of the children of school age cannot go to school. Most of them are girls. In addition, 11-million people, about 40% of the population, are illiterate. In recent years, 3500 schools have been founded, but only 25% of them have roofs. The rest are open-air schools. Because many male family breadwinners have been killed or crippled by war, children have to work to earn a living, and cannot go to school. Amidst all these difficulties, there must be created a better environment for education; schools must be built and repaired; teachers must be trained and textbooks provided. For all this, Japan's help is badly needed.

The third priority is medical assistance. The infant mortality rate in Afghanistan is extremely high: 163 out of 1000 births. The death rate of children under 5 years of age is 257 out of 1000. The average life expectancy is 43.7 years. However, 80% of them would have been saved if appropriate medical care had been provided. In concrete terms, more adequate medical facilities and vaccinations are urgently needed. Furthermore, it is hard for women who live in areas of poor hygienic conditions and healthcare to go and see a doctor. To make it easier, I believe that training more female doctors and health workers, as well as the propagation of medical education among the people is indispensable.

I often talk to my elder brother, also a doctor in an Afghan clinic, on the international phone and am concerned more and more about the future after the presidential elections. The abduction of wealthy family members is now a flourishing business so more and more people are fleeing the country. To help secure the stability of life and inspire hope for the Afghan people, I sincerely hope that Japan will extend carefully planned and meticulously executed assistance in compliance with the real wishes of the Afghan people.

The writer is an Afghan medical doctor and Afghanistan Director of Japan International Friendship and Welfare Foundation
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

アマディヤール・アックバール(Ahmadyar Akbar)  / 日本在住アフガニスタン医師

2009年 12月 25日









一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > How Afghanistan Wants Japan to Help