MSF: Most of the wounded from Afghan earthquake have been treated

"We are getting close to the moment that relief organisations have to switch from emergency aid towards reconstruction," said Malik Allaouna, MSF's Head of Mission for northern Afghanistan, speaking from Nahrin.
Brussells/Nahrin, 28 March 2002 - Now that about 80 per cent of the area devastated by the earthquakes in Afghanistan has been assessed and fewer people are admitted in the medical structures, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is confident that the majority of injured Afghans have found treatment. MSF's Head of Mission for northern Afghanistan, Malik Allaouna, expects that the overall situation will be under control in two or three days from now, though shelter, blankets and water are still needed and some pockets of devastation are yet to be assessed. Phoning from Nahrin, Malik particularly praised the efforts of the Afghans working side by side with international organizations in providing immediate and effective relief. "The collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health has been very positive," says Malik. "They have immediately set up a referral system for injured who could not be treated in Nahrin, provided a surgeon to work in our health structure and set up a small surgery unit. "The Afghan authorities have also been quick to provide security for victims and aid operations, as well as transporting the severely injured to hospitals in Pul-I-Khumri by helicopter. And our Afghan staff have just been great, without exception. They left for Nahrin from nearby projects on very short notice and have shown relentless commitment to their fellow Afghans over the past three days." MSF has a team of 14 Afghan and seven international staff in Nahrin. During the first two days and in eight tents, they have been caring for over 600 wounded people and referred another 50 to Pul-I-Khumri. The main injuries have been fractures, burns, dislocations and soft tissue trauma and the MSF team has focused on dressing the wounds and stabilizing patients for surgery. Though sleeping between work has been difficult - MSF workers have had to make their beds out in the open, in cars or in the small pharmacy - they have been able to deal with a huge load of injured in a short time. "We are getting close to the moment that relief organisations have to switch from emergency aid towards reconstruction," adds Malik from Nahrin. "The distribution of non-food items should be completed in one or two days from now. The road to Burka (has been) open since last night and our team who went there reported no more major medical needs. We're not there yet, but thanks to a great effort of Afghans and international organizations alike, emergency relief has been provided as quickly and professionally as we could have hoped." In all of Afghanistan, MSF provides ongoing assistance with some 100 international and 1,500 national workers. In northern provinces, the main problem remains the dire food situation.