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MSF in Russian Federation, 2008
Field Staff: 292
Reason for Intervention:
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In Chechnya and Ingushetia, located in northern Caucasus, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides surgery, mother-and-child healthcare, mental health support, and tuberculosis (TB) treatment.
In the post-conflict region of Russian North Caucasus, the situation remains volatile. Security in Chechnya has improved, while in neighboring Ingushetia it has worsened dramatically. For security reasons, visits by international MSF staff of to the project sites remain short and much of the responsibility for running the programs lies with the national staff.
Thousands of people who lost their homes during the wars are still living as refugees in Ingushetia or Dagestan, or in Grozny, the Chechen capital. MSF ran a medical center in Nazran, Ingushetia, which provides medical and mental health consultations for the refugees. The clinic conducted up to 1,200 consultations a month in 2008. Doctors provided women’s and pediatric healthcare in clinics in Grozny. On average, more than 1,300 gynecological consultations were provided each month in the Staropromyslovsky area. MSF also supported the Republican Women’s Hospital in Grozny and district hospitals in the mountainous villages of Shatoy, Sharoy and Itum-Kale, supplying drugs and medical materials.
In 2006, MSF opened a surgery project in the republic’s main hospital, Grozny Hospital Number 9, to treat long-standing injuries and chronic disabilities sustained in the war, and victims of road traffic accidents. In 2008, MSF operated on 445 patients and conducted 11,056 physiotherapy consultations here.
TB became a problem in the region after patients’ treatment and follow-up were interrupted because of the war. MSF restored the remaining TB hospitals, set up waste-disposal facilities, trained the local medical staff and started treating patients. Early in 2008, the program expanded to include a TB dispensary in Grozny. MSF aims to provide TB treatment throughout Chechnya, including to patients in the remote mountainous regions who had no access to TB care. Since the beginning of the program in 2004, 1,800 patients have been treated.
A powerful earthquake hit Chechnya in October 2008, killing 13 people, injuring more than 100 and causing widespread destruction. Shocks continued over several days and people spent cold nights outside, fearful that the remaining buildings would collapse. MSF sent mobile teams to the five most severely affected villages and provided more than 1,000 medical and 3,000 psychosocial consultations.
Because MSF does not aim to duplicate the existing or emerging local services, a few MSF programs in the region were closed down or handed over in 2008. MSF handed over the two refurbished polyclinics in Grozny in which teams had run free pharmacies and a reproductive health and family-planning clinic.
Mobile medical teams no longer serve temporary accommodation centers in Grozny. In 2009, MSF plans to stop its emergency surgery program in Grozny, since the number of interventions performed there each month has been declining.
MSF has worked in Russia since 1988 and North Caucasus since 1995.