After over a decade of international aid and investment, Afghans still struggle to access critical medical care due to insecurity, distance, cost, or the dysfunction of many health facilities. There has been some progress, but maternal and infant mortality in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world, casualties from violence are mounting, and unmet medical and humanitarian needs continue to soar.
Before the opening of the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) surgical hospital in Kunduz Province, northern Afghanistan, people in the region suffering from severe injuries had two options. They made the long and dangerous journey to Kabul or Pakistan, or they visited an expensive private clinic. As a result, few patients received the trauma care they needed.
Photojournalist Ton Koene traveled to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in June 2010 to visit the MSF project in the capital, Lashkargah. Intense conflict in the province has left around one million people without access to the health care they need. Here, Koene documents how each member of the MSF team there is working to save lives and provide free medical care in Lashkargah.