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MSF in Pakistan, 2005
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Providing medical aid during tense times
The recent war and continued fighting in Afghanistan have had large consequences for neighboring Pakistan and for MSF's work there. The murder of five MSF staff in Afghanistan in June 2004 forced the Pakistan-based team to decrease its activities due to security concerns. This reduction of aid comes at a time when many Pakistanis lack health care and many Afghan refugees are trying to survive in border camps.
MSF works in the Mohammad Kheil refugee camp, home to approximately 16,500 Afghans, located in the tribal areas of Balochistan near Afghanistan. Thousands of refugees reluctantly left the camp in September 2004 when the UN ended its assistance in an effort to force the refugees to repatriate. To ensure that those refugees who have not returned to Afghanistan out of fear for their safety will continue to receive needed health care, MSF transformed its basic health unit in the camp into a centralized clinic that provides health care services 24-hours-a-day to camp inhabitants as well as local residents.
MSF also opened a laboratory to support its medical work in March 2005. In Kurram Agency, a remote region in the northwestern part of the country, MSF staff work in the pediatric ward of Shasho Hospital. Both inpatient and outpatient consultations are conducted for the local and Afghan refugee populations. MSF is assessing ways to address the health needs of women in the area.
After three years of providing humanitarian assistance in a refugee camp in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, MSF ended its work there in October 2004. The camp's population had decreased rapidly since the Pakistani government and the UN ended their support of the camp in an attempt to encourage residents to repatriate or move to other locations in Pakistan. MSF had worked in the camp since 2001, providing medical care, supplying clean drinking water, and building sanitary facilities for those who had fled war or drought in Afghanistan.
In the contested Kashmir region, fighting between Indian and Pakistani forces has destroyed the area's health care system. Basic health care is provided by the military hospital in Leepa Valley, but women there suffer from a lack of maternal care, predominantly due to the lack of female hospital staff. MSF plans to start a maternal health project in the Leepa Valley during the second part of 2005.
MSF has worked in Pakistan since 2000.