Afghanistan

U.S. Officers Discovered Routine Neglect at Afghan Military Hospital

American officers deployed as mentors in Afghanistan's main military hospital discovered a shocking secret last year -- injured soldiers routinely died of simple infections and had even starved to death as some doctors and nurses demanded bribes for food and the most basic of care, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The discovery, which was not previously reported, added new details to long-standing evidence of gross mismanagement at the Dawood National Military Hospital in Kabul, where most salaries and supplies are paid for by American taxpayers.

Yet the patient neglect continued for months after U.S. officials discovered it, as Afghan officials rebuffed American pressure to take action, multiple documents and testimonies viewed by the WSJ showed.

The way senior Afghan officials tolerated such deadly graft showed just how deeply rooted corruption became under President Hamid Karzai's administration, as well as the limits of Washington's ability to rein it in. American advisers have since forced an improvement in conditions at the hospital.

Dawood is the premier hospital of the Afghan security forces, akin to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

As early as 2006, American officers noted evidence of severe dysfunction at the hospital, including patients who appeared to be malnourished, a U.S. military mentor who served there at the time said. He added that the findings were reported to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, but no action was taken to improve conditions.

In 2008, doctors complained to hospital administrators that patients were being given defective morphine, according to internal documents produced by the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A). Later testing revealed the presence of counterfeit morphine, suggesting that U.S.-procured medicine had been diverted.

To read more on this story, see The Wall St. Journal article here.