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Interim health facility re-opened in Balkh

Kabul, December 20, 2007 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The re-opening ceremony of the Balkh Hospital was held in Mazar-e-Sharif, says an official release on Thursday.

A representative from the Federal Foreign Office handed over the keys for the temporary hospital to the Afghan Health Minister, Mohammed Fatimie.

The interim facility is comprised of various interconnected containers. Construction of the new hardened facility is already planned and the funding is confirmed.

The original Balkh Provincial Hospital burst into flames in September 2006, leaving the main building with operating theatres, radiological department and laboratories destroyed.

Immediately after the fire, ISAF submitted the supposition to Germany to have the hospital reconstructed. The Federal Foreign Office agreed to provide funds to the amount of 1.3 million Euros for a container hospital as an intermediate solution. They also agreed to fund the new hospital building, which is scheduled to open in 2010.

ISAF soldiers and specialists from the Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) supported the installation of the containers, which are now equipped for operations as well as radiological examinations.

In his speech during the opening ceremony, Brig. Gen. Dieter Warnecke, Commander Regional Command North, underlined the high symbolic value of this project for northern Afghanistan.

"The Balkh Hospital is a symbol for future and progress. It has ensured the medical care of the population of the Balkh Province for decades," said Brig. Gen. Warnecke, Commander Regional Command North.