Success Stories

Seema Gul’s Facial Skin Infection
Seema Gul* | 4-years old | Follday Village, Bamyan, Afghanistan

Seema Gul, a healthy 4-year old from Follday Village, Bamyan, Afghanistan, contracted a severe skin infection on her face and spent many harrowing days as her parents struggled to find a treatment.

She was a healthy, playful preschooler when she contracted a skin infection causing red sores over her right, upper cheek area, extending upto her lower eyelid. Amir Jan and his wife resorted to self-medication to treat the rash, taking medicines from a local pharmacy in Bamyan. The rash worsened with the medication and led them seek medical help from Hamidy Private Clinic in the Bamyan, 23 km away from their village. Soon after the treatment from the local clinic, the sores started to burst, forming honey colored crusts on Seema’s face - nothing seemed to be helping. Disappointed with the treatment and worsening rash, Seema’s mother reached out to the community for help and to her rescue came a beneficiary of the AKDN Digital Health Programme. As per his advice, Seema was taken to the Bamyan Provincial Hospital (BPH), 2.5 km away from home.

Due to the lack of specialist dermatology services available at the Bamyan Provincial Hospital, Dr. Abdul Rashed Ehraz, Paediatrician, Bamyan Provincial Hospital, scheduled a live teleconsultation with Dr. Hayatullah Noor Shalizi, Dermatologist, at the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) in Kabul.
Dr Shalizi diagnosed Seema with Impetigo, a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that primarily affects infants and children. He prescribed antibiotics and advised her to take hygienic precautions.

Seema was as able to make a full recovery through only one teleconsultation session. Dr Shalizi was happy to find that Seema had recovered during the follow-up teleconsultation.

Amir Jan was very grateful for the availability of the AKDN Digital Health Programme at the Bamyan Provincial Hospital, which made it possible for them to get Seema treated without having to travel to FMIC, saving them a considerable amount of time and travel expenses.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Born with Cleft Lip: In Search of Zarina’s Smile
Zarina Sayod* | Newborn | Khorog, Tajikistan

It came as a shock to Gulsara and Sayod, parents of now one-year old Zarina, when their daughter was born with cleft lip and soft palate. They were quite unprepared and overwhelmed with emotions: love for their first child, joy on her arrival, confusion and worry as they were unaware of what to expect moving forward. Like any parent, they started doing research to learn more about treatment options for their baby from local healthcare facilities. Frustrated by the lack of services and information about long-term options for children born with this condition, they turned to the experts at the Aga Khan Medical Centre, Khorog (AKMC, K), who walked them through every detail of the treatment options available to them.

Zarina was born with a birth defect of the mouth and lip, also known as oral-facial cleft. The cleft occurs when the roof of the mouth does not close completely in the developing fetus during pregnancy, which results in an opening that extends to the nasal cavity. However, the most immediate concern for Zarina was proper nutrition. Breastfeeding is not an option for affected children as the mouth is not formed completely, making it difficult for them to latch on and suck. To Gulsara and Sayod’s dismay, cleft repair surgery wasn’t available at AKMC, K.

The physicians at AKMC, K took the support of AKDN Digital Health Programme in Tajikistan and arranged a teleconsultation with Dr Tariq Rahimi, a physician at the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children (FMIC) in Afghanistan. Zarina was advised to get surgical repair of the cleft at FMIC. Dr Rahimi was very keen on operating the cleft as early as possible as early repairs give the best results, leaving no scars.

Finally, the cleft lip repair surgery took place in FMIC, Kabul after the struggle for three and a half months. The trip to FMIC, Kabul was organized and executed in a week’s time and Zarina was brought back home following the surgery. There was great post-operative improvement as no signs of scars appeared. Dr Rahimi continued to remain connected via teleconsultations (from FMIC to AKMC, K) for follow-ups throughout the post-operative recovery period.

As Zarina was the first child in the family, the parents and their relatives are very grateful for having digital health services available. In the absence of the services, Sayod and Gulsara would have had to travel 603 km to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which is a 13-hour drive away by vehicle from Khorog. Teleconsultation services saved the family from burden of travel to Dushanbe along with associated travel expenses. They are often seen sharing their experience with other people, who are facing the similar difficulties and motivating to benefit from the services available.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

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