By: The Kabul Times
Lashkar Gah: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has commemorated along with local authorities and members of the Afghani community its tenth anniversary of humanitarian and medical support to the Ministry of Health in Boost Hospital in Lashkar Gah.
In the ceremony held on Wednesday and attended by MSF Country Representative for Afghanistan, local officials and MSF employees and a number of elders and dignitaries of Helmand, MSF Country Representative says MSF is currently running six projects in six provinces in Afghanistan and Boost hospital is one of these projects.
“This project is special for MSF, not just because of our long-term engagement, but also because it marked our return to Afghanistan after a five-year absence following a tragic incident in 2004 when we had to leave the country’’, said Satoru Ida, MSF’s Country Representative in Afghanistan. ‘’We started small in 2009. At that time, the hospital had 150 beds. With everyone’s efforts, we grew quickly to better answer the needs of the population. Within the first three years, MSF began managing emergency and non-emergency cases, the nutrition program for young children, and rehabilitated many departments,” Ida added.
Today, Boost Hospital serves approximately one million people and is the only referral hospital in the province. MSF teams are present in almost all the departments including emergencies, surgery, maternity, pediatrics and internal medicine.
Over the years, the number of staff has significantly increased (from 150 to almost 1,000), major rehabilitation works have been conducted and several trainings have been provided to the hospital staff, both to enhance the hospital’s capacity and improve the quality of care.
Since the beginning of 2019, we assisted more than 13,200 pregnant women to deliver in a safe and secure environment and we treated almost 68,000 children, among which 3,392 for malnutrition. The number of admitted patients went from around 120 per month to an average of 4,000 per month in 2018. The medical needs are still very high for the population in Helmand. Our teams receive hundreds of people every day in the emergency room. Poverty and armed fighting in the province has a direct effect on the population’s access to healthcare.
“It was not easy to come to Lashkar Gah, the journey took hours and we had to go through many checkpoints on the road. When we finally arrived at the hospital, they told us that my son was malnourished and that he urgently needed treatment. We don’t have a lot of money, so I cannot buy food for my family every day. Now my son starts to recover. But what will happen when we will go back to our village?’’, said Malalay, one of MSF’s patients in Boost Hospital.
Boost Hospital is critical to accessing health care in southern Afghanistan, but the hospital has reached the limits of its capacity. Therefore, there is still a need to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare for people living in the area, affected by conflict and who sometimes have to cross frontlines.
It is worth mentioning that MSF started working in Afghanistan in 1980. In our projects, both national and international staff work together to ensure the best quality of treatment. In 2018, more than 120,500 patients were hospitalized, around 75,000 deliveries have been assisted, almost 200,000 patients have been seen in our emergency rooms and 11,430 surgical interventions have been performed in our projects across the country. MSF relies only on private funding for its work in Afghanistan and does not accept money from any government.