Operation Medical Libraries in War Torn Afghanistan
The New York Times reports on the growth of 'Operation Medical Libraries', an effort to restock Afghanistan’s hospitals, clinics and universities with medical textbooks. It began modestly in 2007 with a plea for books from a U.C.L.A. medical graduate serving in the Army and has since been embraced by 30 universities and hospitals, more than a dozen professional organizations and scores of individual doctors and nurses.
Nearly three decades of war and religious extremism have devastated medical libraries and crippled the educational system for doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Factions of the Taliban singled out medical texts for destruction, military medical personnel say, because anatomical depictions of the human body were considered blasphemous.
“They not only burned the books, but they sent monitors into the classroom to make sure there were no drawings of the human body on the blackboard,” said Valerie Walker, director of the Medical Alumni Association of UCLA.
By Ms. Walker’s estimate, 27,000 medical texts have reached Afghanistan through Operation Medical Libraries, but she adds that the number is probably much higher. Donors can contribute directly by visiting the project’s Web site, to find a military volunteer’s address, then shipping the books on their own.