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Since the end of the fighting in Afghanistan, Médecins sans Frontiers’ (MSF) activities are continuing in all its five project locations: Herat, Kandahar, Khost, Kunduz and Lashkar Gah. Now that people are able to move easily in the provinces, MSF has seen a subsequent increase in patient numbers. Health structures are under great pressure with staff and equipment shortages.

    Due to the uncertain situation in Kabul, MSF temporarily reduced the number of international staff in its coordination office but all of MSF’s medical activities are continuing. In Afghanistan we received assurances from the warring parties that MSF’s staff, patients and hospitals would not be attacked. MSF can also treat every person who needs medical care, no matter their ethnicity, gender, political affiliations or which side of a conflict they are on.

    MSF is, however, carefully monitoring the security situation in each of the locations where MSF is based. Given the current instability, displacement of population, acute health needs and access to healthcare for all groups of the population under any administration are our main concerns. 

    The Kahdestan clinic in Herat, where MSF provides outpatient care, treatment for non-communicable diseases and sexual and reproductive services, has seen an increase in patients as other clinics in the area have suspended their activities. 555 patients consulted here between 9 and 16 August.

    During the fighting in Kandahar, MSF was able to continue its care for drug-resistant tuberculosis patients by providing remote consultations and buffer stocks of medication to avoid them having to cross frontlines to access care. Now the Haji camp where 5,000 people were staying is now largely empty. Therefore, MSF has provided healthcare to 179 patients treated in the temporary clinic.

    MSF activities continue in the maternity in Khost, and in the eight supported comprehensive health centres. In July there were 1,450 deliveries in the Khost maternity hospital and between 15 and 17 August we admitted 100 pregnant women and assisted 77 deliveries.

    The situation in Kunduz is calm. On Monday 16 August we moved all our patients from the Kunduz Emergency Trauma Unit (KETU), to the new Kunduz Trauma Centre. Between 9 and 14 August we treated 63 patients, the majority for wound debridement.

    In Lashkar Gah, people who delayed seeking medical help whilst there was active fighting are coming for care. Over the past few days, the Emergency Room has been full with many people presenting with respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems and trauma related injuries related to the fighting and also road traffic accidents. On 17 August MSF provided 815 consultations in our emergency room and is providing care to 300 inpatients.

    MSF in Afghanistan

    MSF has been working in Afghanistan since 1980, with a short absence following the killing of our staff in 2004. Since MSF returned to the country in 2009 we negotiated our access with both warring parties to explain our activities and get the assurances that our medical structures, staff, patients and vehicles were respected. This dialogue with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA, also known as the Taliban) is continuing today. MSF is committed to remaining in Afghanistan as long as the situation allows us to do so.

    In 2020, MSF teams provided over 130,500 outpatient consultations, assisted over 36,300 deliveries and performed more than 6,900 surgical interventions.

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