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MSF in Bahrain, 2011
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Protests began on February 14, 2011, in Bahrain. Within two days, a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team was in the country to conduct an assessment of medical needs.
In March, MSF was invited to give training to about 40 health professionals from both the public and private sectors on managing care for large numbers of injured people.
Good-quality healthcare is available in Bahrain, but MSF noted at that time that access to services was hampered. Health facilities and personnel had been drawn into the centre of the conflict. In its report, Health Services Paralyzed by Bahrain’s Military Crackdown on Patients, published in April, MSF raised concerns about the loss of neutrality of Bahrain’s medical facilities, and the related deprivation of care for numerous sick and wounded people.
While engaging with the government and awaiting a response to its proposal to assist, MSF continued to provide basic first aid to the sick and injured. Between March and July, staff brought assistance to almost 200 patients who did not seek care in public health facilities because they feared being arrested for involvement in the protests or affiliation with protesters.
In July, MSF’s premises in Bahrain were raided, and a local staff member was arrested and detained. He was released in early August.
Since then, MSF has been pursuing negotiations with the authorities to register formally in the country. MSF has proposed the set-up of mental health activities for health workers and people in distress, and offered to support emergency preparedness at hospitals and to help restore trust in the health system.
At the end of 2011, MSF had 3 staff in Bahrain. MSF started working in the country in 2011.