APPRECIATED: Anu Raisma ends her assignment in Afghanistan, where she helped the ongoing development of the health care services.
TALLINN - On July 28, NATO awarded the treaty organization’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) medal to Estonian health care expert Anu Raisma for her work in developing the health care sector in Helmand province in Afghanistan. The award was bestowed on Raisma, who is winding up her civilian mission to the war torn country, by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Cox of the U.K. Defense Forces and Captain Saleem Khan of the U.S. Marines.
Raisma said she was glad she had been able to make a contribution as Estonia’s representative to improving the health and living conditions of people in Afghanistan. “The availability of medical care has improved thanks to cooperation with local inhabitants, the Helmand Province Reconstruction Team and other international partners,” said Raisma. “Every grateful smile we receive attests to the fact that our aid is welcomed and that we should continue our work,” she added.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet said that sending a health care expert to Afghanistan was one of Estonia’s most important civilian missions and that the international recognition signals that Estonia’s contribution to the rebuilding of Afghanistan is highly valued by Estonia’s partners as well. “As a result of the work of the Estonian health care expert, we have been able to make progress with the medical care situation in Helmand in spite of the challenging security situation,” said Paet. “Estonia will continue making an effort to improve the health care sector in Afghanistan,” he said.
Paet said that the Helmand Province Reconstruction Team has, in cooperation with the province’s health care board, reopened a number of medical facilities and the number of medical staff working in the state health care system has grown. Infrastructure has also improved, he noted. “Inhabitants of Helmand have increasing confidence in the state’s medical system, and this is also shown by the fact that more and more people have started seeking out state medical centers instead of private clinics,” Paet said.
An Estonian health care expert has been based in the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand as part of the British-led Helmand Province Reconstruction Team since March 2008. Raisma served as the Estonian health care expert in Afghanistan from March 2009 to July of this year. Up to March 2009, the Estonian health care expert in Afghanistan was Argo Parts. The Estonian health care expert is sent to Afghanistan in cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and MTU Mondo.
The functions of the expert are to implement Estonian development cooperation projects, organize the carrying out of health care projects funded by other backers and serve as an adviser to the Helmand provincial government with regard to development of the health care system. The expert’s main job duties involve coordination between Helmand province’s medical facilities, emergency medical care and other rebuilding efforts in the health care sector.
Priit Paju will now take over for Raisma in developing Helmand’s health care sector.