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Suraya Dalil was born in Kabul in 1970. Her parents were both teachers at the Kabul Teachers’ Training College and both worked in the education sector for many years. She graduated from Zarghona High School in Kabul in 1985 and studied medicine at Kabul Medical University (1986-1991). She graduated with highest honors and first in her class from KMU in Dec. 1991. In 1992, she began residency training in general surgery at Ali Abad Hospital where she worked for less than a year when she was forced to leave Kabul because of intense fighting and insecurity.. She then worked with Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF—winner of the Nobel Peace Prize) in Mazar-e-Sharif (Balkh Province) from 1992 to 1993, providing health care services to thousands of Tajik refugees who had fled fighting in Tajikistan and sought refuge in northern Afghanistan. Dr. Dalil’s main responsibilities were setting up medical clinics in refugee camps, providing medical consultations which included nutritional screening of children and obstetric care, as well as controlling communicable diseases. Her next assignment was with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in 1993-94, where she focused on medical assistance to Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran. In 1994, Dr. Dalil began work on a large-scale measles and polio immunization program managed by UNICEF which vaccinated thousands of children in nine northern and northeastern provinces. In 1995, she led the establishment of an immunization program within the local government structure. In 1998, however, she and her family were forced to leave Mazar-e-Sharif for Pakistan in order to escape the fighting. From 1998 to the beginning of 2002, Dr. Dalil lived in Islamabad, where she continued working with UNICEF's Afghanistan Office that was operating from Pakistan. She travelled to Afghanistan numerous times during those years, training midwives and doctors and helping UNICEF-supported programs in a number of provinces including Laghman, Nangarhar, Farah, Herat, Balkh and Kabul. In 2002, when the new post-Taliban government was established in Afghanistan, Dr. Dalil and her husband and children returned to Kabul, where she continued working to improve the health of women and children through her employment with UNICEF. In 2002-03, she participated in the Afghanistan Maternal Mortality Study (implemented by the MoPH, CDC and UNICEF) – one of the most important public health studies in Afghanistan’s recent history. In 2004, Dr. Dalil was awarded a Presidential Scholarship from the School of Public Health, Harvard University. She returned to Afghanistan with a Master Degree in Health Care Management in 2005, when she continued with UNICEF/Afghanistan’s health program as head of Policy and Training. She realized that as Afghanistan built a new health care system, the country needed to get it right and to have as many Afghans involved as possible. In July 2007, she left Afghanistan for UNICEF/Somalia where she served as Chief of the Health and Nutrition Program until Dec. 2009. She is currently the Minister of Public Health. Her mother tongue is Uzbek and she is the mother of three children.
“Where Giving Birth is a Forecast for Death: Maternal Mortality in Four Districts in Afghanistan, 1999—2002”. Linda Bartlett, Shairose Mawji, Sara Whitehead, Chadd Crouse, Suraya Dalil, Denisa Ionete, Peter Salama and the Afghan Maternal Mortality Study Team. Published by The Lancet Vol. 365, March 5, 2005. www.thelancet.com
Co-author of “Establishing Emergency Obstetric Care in a Post-Conflict Environment: Policies and Strategies for Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Afghanistan” published in “Book of Abstracts”, Averting Maternal Death and Disability Network Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Oct. 2003.