MSF Treats War-Wounded In Lashkargah
(MSF) said on Monday its teams had treated 68 people injured during recent clashes in southern Helmand province. The individuals were provided medical care at Boost Hospital from June 21 to July 5.
Most of the injured were treated at the Emergency Hospital, which became overwhelmed from June 22 as fighting increased and, for the first time in five years, it was forced to refer war-wounded patients to Boost Hospital.
At the peak of clashes, MSF surgeons performed up to five surgeries a day and admitted six to 10 wounded patients to the emergency room. In total, the team treated 68 patients injured as a direct consequence of the fighting.
“Most of our patients have been wounded by gunshots and heavy explosions,” says Marcus Bachmann, MSF project coordinator in Boost hospital. “We have seen soft tissue injuries and we even admitted a pregnant woman with shrapnel wounds.”
Improvised explosive devices and crossfire on the roads leading to Lashkargah made it even more difficult for the wounded to reach hospital.
“My brother had been injured by shrapnel and we were on the way to hospital when fighting broke out,” says Abid. “It was night time. We couldn’t go back, we couldn’t move on.
“We were stuck between the frontlines all night long. We turned off the lights of the car and waited. Luckily my brother survived and, when the fighting stopped at daylight, we were able to reach the hospital.”
Clashes also severely impeded access to general healthcare for all the population. “My granddaughter was sick. We couldn’t find a driver willing to take the risk to transport us to Boost Hospital: we had to pay extra.
“So we sold a sheep and borrowed money which took us a couple of days. But my granddaughter got even sicker and stopped eating. I wish we would have reached the Hospital earlier,” says Hawa’s grandmother.
Because of the danger, families often postpone bringing sick relatives to hospital until their lives are in acute danger.
“Children arrived to Boost hospital in very late stage of their sickness with severe malnutrition, in sepsis or septic shock.” says Bachmann.
While the fighting has decreased in intensity since 5 July, and the roads are passable once again, the high level of violence continues to take a toll on the people of Helmand province, who have to deal on a daily basis with landmines, bombs, active fighting and the risk of being caught in crossfire.
A recent survey conducted among MSF patients in Boost revealed a staggering four out of five people had experienced barriers in reaching hospital as a result of the conflict. For those who could not reach medical care in time or at all, one in three of the consequent deaths were caused by the conflict according to the people interviewed.
Since 2009, MSF has been supporting activities in Boost Hospital in the capital of Helmand province. The MSF team works in a number of departments including maternity, pediatrics, internal medicine, surgery, intensive care and the emergency room.