Afghanistan: Focus on Mother and Child Healthcare

From the 1999 MSF International Activity Report

International staff : 38

Ensuring good mother and child health care is a priority for MSF. for cultural reasons, Afghan women are reluctant to be seen by male doctors and often do not have the option of seeing a woman doctor as there is a lack of female health care staff. MSF cooperates and supports the work of a local aid agency running a network of maternal and child health clinics in the Kandahar and the central province Oruzgan. In the eastern province of Ghazni, MSF continues to support the 80-bed provincial hospital and a tuberculosis programme.

From Ghazni and Kabul, support is given to two clinics in Hazarajat.

In Western Afghanistan, MSF is working in Herat Province with a local aid agency with whom over a three year period MSF will help develop health care facilities focusing on health care for women and children for a total of 150,000 people in three districts.

Also in Western Afghanistan, in Badghis Province, MSF is helping the displaced return to their areas of origin by setting up basic health facilities in an area where there is otherwise no health care.

In the northern provinces of Balkh, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar, Faryab and Bamian where tens of thousands have been displaced by the conflict, MSF runs preventive and curative medical programmes out of 20 clinics and one hospital with an average of 30,000 consultations a month. MSF aims to respond rapidly to emergencies, whether they be natural disasters or the results of conflict.

In January 1999, MSF opened a new mission in the poor, isolated north-eastern region of Badakshan. MSF focuses on strengthening medical services in two clinics and improving the populations' access to health care. In the neighbouring Panjshir region, MSF supports two hospitals and four clinics for preventive and curative health care.

Since July 1998 when all agencies were expelled from Kabul by the Taliban, MSF has resumed its activity in only one clinic but is ready to react to any emergency, if MSF's independence is guaranteed.

In June 1999, because of a new outbreak of cholera in Kabul, MSF was elected to be the operational lead agency in terms of hospital case management, in cooperation with Save the Children Fund (SCF) and the ministry for health. Antany Hospital is intended to be the main referral center for adults. Here, MSF set up and supports a 60-bed female and male cholera ward.