Afghanistan: MSF Reopens Khost Maternity Hospital

KABUL/KHOST, AFGHANISTAN January 2, 2013—The international independent medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has resumed activities at its maternity hospital in Khost Province, Afghanistan, which were suspended following an explosion in the hospital in April 2012.

The reopening follows the demonstration of strong support to MSF and reassurances over the last few months by the local community and all relevant actors, enabling the organization to resume its maternal health services in the province. A bomb exploded inside the maternity hospital in April. Seven people were injured in the explosion, which occurred six weeks after MSF opened its facility, where more than 600 women had already delivered babies.

Following recommendations of a meeting, or jirga, held in August between MSF and key members of the Khost community, necessary logistical work was performed to ensure the safety of patients, caretakers, and MSF staff. Additionally, an all-female team of Afghan medical staff, including doctors, midwives, and nurses, has been recruited to work alongside female international medical colleagues, who are essential for the resumption of high-quality medical care in the hospital.

“The hospital is ready to provide free, high-quality medical care for pregnant women, particularly those who cannot afford to pay for treatment and those suffering complicated pregnancies and deliveries,” said Benoit De Gryse, MSF’s country representative in Afghanistan.

In another meeting on December 19, representatives from all districts of Khost Province, among them prominent religious figures and scholars, confirmed their strong support for the continuation of MSF’s activities.

“Support from the community and respect for the safety and security of patients, health facilities, and medical staff enable MSF to work in three other locations in Afghanistan and in more than 70 other countries,” De Gryse said.

As in all MSF hospitals in Afghanistan, a strict no-weapons policy will be enforced to ensure the safety and security of patients.

MSF works in Ahmad Shah Baba Hospital in eastern Kabul and Boost Hospital in Lashkargah, Helmand Province. The organization also runs a surgical trauma center in Kunduz, providing lifesaving surgical care to people in northern Afghanistan. In all locations, MSF provides medical care free of charge and works in all wards of the hospitals.

MSF relies only on private funding in Afghanistan and does not accept money from any government for its work.