The COVID-19 pandemic saw waves of Afghan men crossing the border from Iran to get back into their home country, a country they once fled. They were terrified of contracting the virus and in trying to escape it, they unknowingly brought it across the border to a country with very little resources to contain and combat it. As the virus spread, Afghanistan did not have enough testing kits or places to house and treat the infected. Children’s hospitals are now turning into COVID-19 treatment centers. Many medical clinics are closing their doors temporarily so the staff can transition to assisting at these hospitals.
Much like medical clinics here in the US, those in Afghanistan that stay open are also seeing patients via video chat on phones and computers. Dr. Sharifa Hesarnaee, class of 2018, has been in contact with her former mentor, Dr. Susan Chambers of Lakeside Women’s Hospital, Oklahoma City, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Sharifa owns her own clinic in Afghanistan which specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. Her clinic is one that has closed temporarily due to quarantine regulations but that does not mean that life slowed down. In addition to her own clinic, Dr. Sharifa also works at a local hospital which has seen a loss of staff due to the fear surrounding this virus. She does all of this with three young children to care for at home.
Dr. Sharifa is one of the many medical workers on the front line in her country. Her compassion and drive to help care for her country are heartwarming and inspirational in a time where both sentiments are needed. We thank you, Dr. Sharifa and Dr. Chambers, for your hard work and your bravery.