Kabul, Afghanistan


‘Achieving access to reliable and updated knowledge sources at Kabul Medical University’
Improving medical knowledge of Afghan medical professionals and medical students by establishing access to internationally well accepted knowledge sources, which provide reliable and more importantly, state of the art knowledge.


In present days Afghan health sector faces a lot of challenges and difficulties. One of the main problems remains the lack of good medical knowledge sources for doctors and medical students. Health care professionals are facing difficulties in gaining access to current and evidence based knowledge. In our opinion, it is especially distressing that the new generation of Afghan medical students do not have access to the same updated knowledge as all the medical students around the world. Afghanistan is facing tough times after decades of war and all the hopes are on the new generation to rebuild the country. We believe that in the 21st century, it is unnecessary and avoidable that a big gap in medical knowledge exists between medical students throughout the world.

The use of updated knowledge in medicine is important for several reasons. First, updated knowledge ensures that a doctor works in harmony with the most recent evidenced based findings. The use of predated diagnosing and treatment methods could lead to unnecessary harm and mortality in patients.

Furthermore, availability of recent research data is very important for setting up new contributive research. This could open a wide range of new research  possibilities in a country like Afghanistan, where young researchers really can contribute to enlarge the amount of world wide data in certain fields. The notion and awareness of what has already been investigated avoids unnecessary efforts, which might already have taken place in other parts of the world.

Finally and maybe the most important aspect to mention is the improvement of the individual knowledge of medical professionals. Having access to the same  knowledge as most of the colleagues around the world could improve doctor’s confidence and patient’s trust in the healthcare. This is of utmost importance, because trust in self and each other is the biggest pillar on which medicine stands since the era of Hippocrates till now. To realize such an objective, efforts are needed to provide access to reliable sources which are internationally recognized, such as UpToDate.

Project description

UpToDate is an online based medical knowledge source. It contains information about 9000+ topics and the topic range is very broad including 20 medical specialties. This service is provided by Wolters Kluwer Health division.

We believe that UpToDate is an excellent source for good quality, up to date and evidence based knowledge. In the Netherlands, all the academic university’s and their affiliated hospitals have access to UpToDate. Furthermore 158 countries, including 90% of academic medical centers in the United States, use UpToDate. From our own experience, as medical students and doctors, we have also found UpToDate as a very useful tool to gain knowledge. Therefore, we would like to put effort in the realization of access to this source at Kabul Medical University (KMU). KMU is the largest academic medical University in Afghanistan.

The process

MCAN works on a demand driven principle. A careful inventory at KMU was made to be sure that this project is indeed needed and appreciated in Kabul. Two board members of MCAN evaluated the necessity and applicability during separate visits in 2013 to KMU. This inventory confirmed our idea that there is certainly a need for UpToDate at KMU. There is sufficient amount of equipment at KMU to realize this project (computers and internet access). A letter written by the president of KMU, directed to MCAN was received. In this letter KMU requests our help to gain access to UpToDate.

After several talks MCAN managed to get an offer with significant discount for KMU. An offer/contract for 3 years with a discount of 2/3 was realized. Unfortunately, Wolters Kluwer Health is unable to provide a free access. Nevertheless, MCAN is delighted with this substantial discount.

Evaluation and the vision of the future

In 2016 and 2018 a number of MCAN members traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan to introduce this project and facilitate the access for the medical students and staff at KMU and Aliabad Teaching Hospital. The number of users is increasing every year, which motivates us as MCAN to do our best to find sponsors to fund this project for many years. Our future aim is to see UpToDate being a curricular part of medicine study in all universities in Afghanistan.

Learn more about Medical Committee Afghanistan Netherlands

MCAN is a volunteering initiative, consisting of a multidisciplinary group of medical doctors and academics living in the Netherlands.