Fresno men improving medical care in Afghanistan

FRESNO, Calif.

It's an unlikely match, but when they explain why two American men would want to invest in the lives of women and children far away, it makes perfect sense.

Although there are signs of recovery, three decades of war has taken its toll on Afghanistan. Living conditions are still poor, at best. Most homes built with flimsy materials laying over dirt floors.

The women and children have suffered most. 25 percent of Afghani children never live to the age of five, one in seven women die during pregnancy.

Shocking statistics for anyone to hear, and especially for Darius Assemi. He's an Iranian immigrant, and now president of Fresno's Granville Homes.

"You know, we're all children of the same god, we just happen to live in this country where all of us have access to the best medical care in the world," Assemi said. "It would be a shame not to share that with those less fortunate."

Three years ago Assemi teamed up with Dr. David Scoffield to start a clinic in Afghanistan's capitol city of Kabul. The clinic turned into a 100 bed hospital, but in a city of six million, the two discovered mothers and babies were still dying needlessly.

Dr. Scoffield said, "The painful part for me is that I know that most of those problems can be treated or prevented and usually with basic medical care."

After nearly two years of work, a new neonatal unit will open at the hospital at the end of January. The challenge now is to connect the moms to medical care at the hospital.

"It's basically the mother in law who controls healthcare," Dr. Scoffield said. "Unfortunately she usually comes from a background where she never delivered in a hospital. She doesn't see the necessity for that."

So along with medical care, Dr. Scoffield and Assemi want to deliver education to the Afghan population, to do their small part to help save their neighbors in need.

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