Lack of doctors for troops in Afghanistan

Lack of doctors for troops in Afghanistan
Despite increased risks facing Swedish troops in Afghanistan, vital medical personnel are still in short supply in the field.

Currently, Swedish forces in Afghanistan lack an anaesthetist and a surgeon because of difficulties in recruiting qualified personnel.

As a result, the unit within the medical platoon which is supposed to follow soldiers during risky missions doesn’t have access to the competence needed in the field, said Tomas Arvidsson, the senior medical officer for Sweden’s Afghanistan force, speaking to Sveriges Radio.

“I’m very concerned about the situation,” he told the radio station.

In theory, the troops are to have access to two forward surgical teams which can be put in place quickly if a soldier is seriously injured, according to Arvidsson,

In practice, however, there has never been more than one such team. And the existing forward surgical team lacks both an anaesthetist and a surgeon, positions which have been vacant for some time.

Lieutenant General Anders Lindström, head of the Armed Forces operations forces, told Sveriges Radio that he’s aware of the problem and that measures are being taken to fill the vacancies.

He didn’t wish to comment specifically on how the vacancies may have affected the handling of the soldiers who were injured last week when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.

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