Sierra Leone: War surgery a priority

At the end of 1998, heavy fighting resumed in Freetown and the campaign of terror against civilians continued. The rebels have since been forced out of the capital but still control many of the roads and towns in the surrounding area. It is estimated that there are 50,000 newly displaced people as well as 54,000 new arrivals in Liberia and 70,000 in Guinea. Since the coup d'état in May 1997, MSF has run a surgical programme at Connaught Hospital in Freetown for war-related cases. On 31 January, MSF relaunched the programme after a month-long evacuation. In April and May, the team witnessed a severe rise in the number of mutilated patients. MSF continues to protest against the cruel acts directed towards civilians. MSF has also been running a surgical programme and an outpatients wing in Brookfields Community Hospital since February 1999. The team is in charge of hospital management and provides health care support to four clinics: Rocupa, Lumley, Goderich and Hastings. MSF also provides medical follow up in a displaced camp in Freetown. Many of the patients are amputees who have been treated by MSF in Connaught Hospital. A team supplies water to two other camps for the displaced. Since the renewed fighting, MSF was forced to evacuate from Moyamba, a district which lies to the south of the capital Freetown, where a new medical programme had begun. In the Northern Province, MSF works in Kambia and Portloko districts where MSF runs a dry feeding programme in eight clinics for under-fives, provides water and sanitation assistance and supplies drinking water to the community. MSF also supports Kambia hospital on an ad hoc basis. During the worst of the fighting in January, MSF ran the programme from its base in Guinea. In the Southern province MSF continues to provide support to six clinics and the district hospital in Pujehun, eight clinics and the district hospital in Bo, and two clinics in Bonthe. Many of these structures have been rehabilitated by MSF.