WASHINGTON Afghan authorities are investigating former Afghan Surgeon General Zia Yaftali after reports of patient abuse at a U.S.-backed military hospital in Kabul, a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday.
David Sedney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, was questioned by members of a House oversight subcommittee on whether Yaftali’s salary is funded by the U.S. at this time.
“Whether he is receiving his salary or not is a question that we will ask the Afghans,” said Sedney. “We don’t have any information to say that’s he’s not.”
Last month, the Defense Department said it was investigating Dawood National Military Hospital in Kabul, where allegations of mismanagement and patient abuse first surfaced in summer 2010, when Yaftali served as Afghan National Army’s surgeon general at the hospital.
Sedney said that the U.S. has spent about $185 million to fund Afghanistan medical facilities over the past nine years.
Retired Air Force Col. Schuyler Geller, who worked with Yaftali in 2010, wrote a 25-page memo requested by the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform detailing events surrounding the hospital and its management.
Geller’s memo said U.S. contractors providing mentorship in February 2010 called Yaftali “the most transparent, least corrupt and most competent officer” in the Afghan National Army.
But by July 2010, Geller presented an assessment to U.S. military leaders in Afghanistan that listed recommendations for leadership replacement
“Substantive allegations of nepotism, fraud, embezzlement of … funds and collusion with fuel and pharmaceutical theft have been raised against [Yaftali],” Geller’s memo said. “The corruption allegations and direct accusations hamper his ability to lead within ANA.”
DOD Deputy Inspector General Kenneth P. Moorefield ventured outside of his written statement to tell the subcommittee of the progress made at Dawood since a Defense Department’s inspection in February 2011.
“There were no complaints or evidence of patient maltreatment,” said Moorefield.
He also said new processes and procedures have been created to improve personnel accountability and patient care. For instance, he said, there now are standards to ensure staff shows up for work and complete assigned tasks.
“This is my personal opinion, but I think leadership was a major factor” in Dawood’s problems,” said Moorefield