183289 Communicable Diseases Know No Borders: Report on a Landmark Regional Health Conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Its Impact on Regional Cooperation

Monday, October 27, 2008: 10:50 AM

Sallie Craig Huber, MSc , REACH/Afghanistan, Mangement Sciences for Health, Cambridge, MA
A. Frederick Hartman, MD MPH , Managment Sciences for Health, Cambridge, MA
Jon Rhode, MD , Managment Sciences for Health, Cambridge, MA
Sylvia Vriesendorp , Management Sciences for Health, Cambridge, MA
In 2005, the Minister of Health, Dr. Sayeed Fatimie, requested assistance from The Rural Expansion of Afghanistan's Community-based Health Care Project (REACH) funded by USAID and implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) to design and implement a regional health conference for all countries that are neighbors to Afghanistan. The theme “Health for All, Health by All:Communicable Diseases Recognize No Borders” was chosen and the date set for April 17-20,2006. The Deputy Minister for Planning and Prevention led the planning process. Technical preparatory committees were established and a lead facilitator invited from partner agencies, such as WHO, CDC, ICDDRD, and USAID, for the six diseases that were chosen—Avian Influenza, Cholera, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Polio. Invitations were extended to 14 countries in the region. Seven accepted and USAID funded government representatives from Turkey, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, while WHO funded the participation of Iran.

The meeting was inaugurated by President Hamid Karzai who stressed the theme of "regional brotherhood" and the need to work together to control disease and poverty. During the first 2 days, keynote addresses in key thematic areas, such as infectious disease control, surveillance, and scaling up were followed by small work group meetings in each of the six disease areas whereby the technical representatives worked out a region-wide plan of action. On the third day, the ministerial representatives met as a group and adopted the Kabul Declaration to establish principles of regional cooperation. These included commitments to: mobilize political will, harmonize health messages, implement quality surveillance with the open exchange of information,identify high risk and mobile populations, standardize disease management guidelines, and use evidence-based approaches to inter-country disease control activities. Regional cooperation to control communicable diseases that know no borders can improve regional conflict and open dialogue amongst governements.

Two years after the Kabul Declaration, significant progress has been made in cross border activities in avian influenza, malaria and polio control that will be highlighted. A well designed regional conference can stimulate countries to work together for better disease control and help reduce conflict.

Learning Objectives:
understand the participatory process required to develop a major international conference to gain regional cooperation in a post-conflict situation. List the key factors agreed upon as essential for regional cooperation in a situation of continuing conflict. Identify successful outcomes of regional collaboration despite both internal and external conflict.

Keywords: Conflict Resolution, Infectious Diseases

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Published a book, several articles and numerous presentations on health care in Afghanistan, including 2 at previous APHA meetings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.