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IRAQ CRISIS: OVERVIEW OF MSF ACTIVITIES
April 1, 2003
Three doctors from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) six-man team in Baghdad are integrated into 24-hour surgical and medical shifts every other day to assist their medical colleagues at al Kindi Hospital in northeast Baghdad, one of several hospitals designated as first-line treatment centers for emergency war-wounded in the city.
While on duty Saturday, five emergency casualties arrived, 3 requiring immediate abdominal surgery. On Monday, the hospital received 19 casualties, many of them children, and some eventually died. Intense bombings continue, and the situation is deteriorating.
AL KINDI HOSPITAL
Al Kindi is a teaching hospital in northeast Baghdad with about 250 beds, 60 senior doctors, plenty of residents and junior doctors, and main surgical specialties including Ear, Nose, and Throat and opthamology. Up until now, the hospital has been functioning well, especially in terms of doctors, but there are some shortages in painkillers and anesthetic drugs. MSF hopes to re-supply these.
The al Kindi physicians are skilled and experienced in trauma surgery, and there are many surgical specialties available on a 24-hour basis. They are committed to staying and working in the hospital. MSF is there to support the staff if needed. Last Thursday, MSF doctors were integrated into a surgical and medical team, so they will now be at the hospital every other day in scheduled 24-hour shifts.
In addition to war-wounded, normal health services continue at al Kindi - babies are born, people need help with chronic health problems. Elective surgeries have been delayed, though, and war quickly disrupts supplies of all basic medical materials, which is why MSF will try to send more supplies.
MSF has seen only a very limited refugee or displaced movement towards Syria, Jordan, and Iran, and it is still not sure there will be many. People are leaving certain parts of Baghdad to areas that are less exposed, but there has not been a major flow of people either within or outside of Iraq.
MSF has pre-positioned small teams and some material in many of the neighboring countries in the event of a refugee crisis. In Iran, MSF will provide for health needs at 2 camps (out of 10) Iranian authorities have established in Qas-re-Sherin and Kermanshah.
MSF has also entered into agreements with Syrian authorities to provide for health and water and sanitation needs at a camp being prepared for 20,000 people at el Hol, near Hassake. These refugee camps are in the middle of the desert - which could be a burden in terms of water, cooking food, shelter, sandstorms, and extreme heat.
And in Jordan, MSF continues to travel to the border, but there have only been a small number of third-country nationals who left Iraq shortly before and shortly after the war began.