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Reliable Electricity Improves Kabul Dental School
A dentist at the Stomatology Teaching Hospital at Kabul Medical University treats a young patient in the dental clinic, where the stable flow of electricity has dramatically improved services.
A dentist at the Stomatology Teaching Hospital at Kabul Medical University treats a young patient in the dental clinic, where the stable flow of electricity has dramatically improved services.
The Kabul Medical University Stomatology Teaching Clinic, a dentistry school, opened in March 2007. Stocked with state-of-the art lab equipment, there was only one problem: scarce electricity.

“It was a problem for teaching,” said Dr. Shakib Sobat, a doctor of dental surgery. “Computers, projectors, machines—they all stopped when there was no power.”

All of that changed in early 2009 when reliable electricity began to flow into Kabul as a result of the introduction of new power sources. Through the efforts of USAID’s Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Program, the Northeastern Power System (NEPS) began to import more electricity from Uzbekistan and the Tarakhil Power Plant came on line to serve establishments connected to the grid.

This is good news for Dr. Sobat. Dental surgery no longer requires three back-up generators, and services are no longer restricted to daylight hours. Even though lingering inefficiencies in power dispatch can still unsettle sensitive x-ray machines, voltage regulators cope with fluctuations.

Operating costs are also dropping. In the past, the clinic depended on a generator using large amounts of diesel fuel. “We were using it all the time,” said the Deputy Dean of the Kabul School of Medicine. “Now we don’t need it.”

Today, 500 students are enrolled in the seven-year dental program. Student interns, under the guidance of their teachers, treat 80-90 patients per day in laboratories dedicated to dental specialties. Patients range in age from eight to eighty.

The school is opening new opportunities for both men and women. There are seven female doctors on the staff; twelve female students are completing their dental training while another twelve are enrolled in earlier stages of the program.

USAID, through its Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Program, is committed to ensuring a sufficient and stable supply of electricity to all of Afghanistan. NEPS and the Tarakhil Plant, which currently provide a combined 240 megawatts of power, are good examples of the progress being made. Additional energy projects stabilize and systematize the dispatch of electricity to an increasing number of houses, governmental buildings, and businesses.

In Afghanistan, electricity is ensuring better lives and for the patients of the Stomatology Teaching Clinic, brighter smiles.

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