Despite increased support, limited access prevents the scope of MSF intervention in Kurram Agency, Pakistan
Over the last week, with the start of a military operation in Kurram agency, MSF has witnessed an increase in the number of consultations in the paediatric ward of Sadda hospital. This is mostly due to the influx of displaced people from the conflict area.
In recent years, the intensification of the conflicts in the FATA led to population displacements, disruption of supply lines, isolation of local population, and contributed to the near collapse of the healthcare system. This is the case in Kurram Agency and the situation is especially worrying in times of intensified conflict as seen today.
To respond to the current situation, MSF is stepping up its support to Sadda hospital. The ambulance capacity will be increased to ensure good referral conditions, notably for the severely injured patients. A bigger observation room that would allow setting more beds in our paediatric ward is being sought, and supplementary drugs will be provided to our projects. Our teams are also in discussion with the local health authorities regarding the possible collaboration in case of an influx of wounded or an epidemic.
However this increased support remains insufficient. For several years now, the limitation of access to Kurram for our international staff, including medical specialists, is limiting our intervention. The support provided by MSF in Kurram could be extended, replicated to other hospitals and to other FATA agencies if access restrictions to these areas were lessened.
Since 2004 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is the only international medical organization permanently present and active in Kurram Agency. Our services include: paediatric support in Sadda and Alizai, treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Sadda and transfer of patients to the hospitals in Hangu or Peshawar for urgent medical or surgical treatment.
MSF has been working in Pakistan since 1986, providing free medical assistance to Pakistanis and to Afghan refugee or displaced populations, to victims of conflicts and of limited access to cares. MSF also delivers health care services to mothers and children and intervenes in the event of epidemics and natural disasters. Our objective is to ensure that all patients can get access to life-saving medical care, and we therefore support health facilities where gaps are the most important. Currently, in KKP and FATA, MSF teams are present in Kurram Agency, Hangu, Lower Dir, Peshawar, Malakand and Swat districts. MSF is also working in Balochistan and Sindh provinces.
To ensure the safety of patients treated, MSF is implementing a strict “no-weapons” policy inside the health facilities we work in. MSF urges all members of the community, political parties, armed forces and armed opposition to respect the neutrality of health structures and to respect medical staff. These are prerequisites to our presence and our involvement.
To ensure its independence, MSF solely relies on private financial contributions from individuals around the world, and does not accept funding from any government, donor agency, nor from any military or politically affiliated group.