|Information note to the press
|International Telecommunication Union
For immediate release
|Telephone:||+41 22 730 6039||
|Telefax:||+41 22 730 5933
Afghanistan is "Calling" — Help Put Them On-line
Franco-Swiss Golfers Unite to build Multipurpose Community
Geneva, 24 July 2002 —
Imagine this scenario. A young football player from Kabul is brought to
the hospital in serious condition. He is suffering from high fever and an
infection in his leg. Laboratory tests confirm that the infection is necrotising
fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease. The only possible treatment
appears to be amputation. However, if his health care workers were able to
access MEDLINE — an important medical source on the Internet — they could
consult a recent article, which describes an alternative treatment. They could
then save the boys life, his leg and his aspirations for a football career.
Unfortunately, in war torn Afghanistan, the likelihood of health care workers
being able to utilize the power of Information and Communication Technologies
(ICTs) to seek additional medical opinions or to improve their skills and the
health of their patients is minimal. However, the rebuilding of Afghanistan has
begun and one of the first priorities is to develop the communication
infrastructure essential for the country to benefit from the economic growth and
prosperity that the information society has brought to many of the world’s
To reach this end the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Golf Associates
Franco-Suisse Chapter (IGA-FS) have joined forces in a grass roots charity fund
raising drive deemed the International Day of Charity — Golf (IDC-G). The
IDC-G website is located at http://www.idc-g.org/.
Due to the particular hardship Afghanistan is facing, its communication and
development needs are initially best achieved through shared access. According
to the Secretary-General of ITU, Yoshio Utsumi, "Community telecentres are
a powerful and cost-effective means of taking the socio-economic benefits of
Information and Communication Technologies to those who would otherwise be
deprived of them."
The centres will also serve an urgent need for many of the more than one
million refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran according to UNHCR. Most have
been out of their home country for years during the decades long turmoil. The
means to search for and reach lost family members will be welcome.
The IDC-G has challenged 100 local area golf clubs, their members, ‘pay and
play’ golfers and anyone else with a good heart and the financial means, to
join with them in contributing 100 USD (per year) towards the financing and
construction of urgently needed telecentres in Afghanistan. A goal of 500,000
USD has been set to be reached by the end of December 2002.
Scott Austin, founder of IGA-FS, states "Passion makes possible. It’s
no secret that Golf is by far the richest sport in the world and that the adult
majority of the estimated 40 million registered golfers worldwide can easily
afford to make the 100 USD annual contribution the IDC-G is asking. As a single
group we have the means to provide ITU and the UNHCR with the financial means to
respond to Afghanistan’s urgent call for help. We’re determined to do our
utmost to see to it that they get it."
For more details on how the International Day of Charity Golf works and how
you can help ‘drive’ this worthy effort, simply go to the website at http://www.idc-g.org/
About Multipurpose Community Telecentres
The services foreseen for the Afghani Telecentres include:
- Basic services: Telecommunications:
Telephone, Fax. In addition to providing basic voice services, sectors of
the population such as farmers, could benefit from access to public
telephones and data networks where they could find government and community
information of relevance to their activities. Additional information
services could include training courses, as well as advertising job
vacancies and skill profiles to support people looking for employment.
- E-Mail Service: Electronic mailboxes
"leased" to Telecentre users.
- Information services: access to
regional, national and international electronic on-line or CD-ROM based
databases, regional library files, local authority information, as
- Data-processing services: word-processing
and desktop publishing programs. Professional programs (business accounting
programs, agricultural programs, etc.). A wide selection of other programs.
- Training and education: introductory
computer courses and "Open University" type on-line or CD-ROM
based tutorials. Also, teachers could benefit from the possibility of
consulting with specialists in their field by means of e-mail. Money could
be saved using distance education of in-service teachers as in the case of
health workers and government employees.
- Telemedicine applications:
Workstations, scanners and software to enable the hospital to acquire second
opinions from medical practitioners. Access to data networks, especially
using email, would enable doctors (and patients) to consult information
about diseases and treatment, to download training courses and to consult
and exchange experiences with doctors and health workers all over the world.
- Desktop Publishing (DTP): possibly
provided on a "cost recovery" basis.
- Secretarial and Administrative Services:
such as typing, accounts administration; database development and filing
also provided at cost.
- Training, Mentoring and Support Services
- Information & News: The MCTs can
provide the community with relevant news captured from news services or
Internet and prepare it for the local community e.g. by a journalist user