Afghanistan: MSF Treats 17 Wounded in Kunduz Bombing

Michael Goldfarb


After a bomb blast hit the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz on March 25, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) received 23 patients at its trauma center. MSF medical teams treated 17 wounded patients, while six people were dead on arrival or died shortly thereafter.

Of the 17 patients treated by MSF, five suffered life-threatening injuries and were in a critical condition. The injuries sustained from the blast included heavy bleeding, head traumas, skin lacerations, and fractures, with six patients undergoing emergency trauma surgery.

By activating its “multiple casualty plan,” which classifies patients according to the severity of their injuries, the medical team was able to identify and treat the most critical patients as the priority.

“Given the proximity of the incident to our facility, all the wounded patients arrived at the hospital within a 15-minute period,” said Elias Abi-Aad, MSF’s field coordinator in Kunduz. “The quick response of our medical staff meant the most critical patients received immediate attention, with the first surgery carried out within half an hour.”

MSF has been running the trauma center in Kunduz since August 2011, providing high-quality, free surgical care to victims of general trauma like traffic accidents, as well as those presenting with conflict-related injuries from bomb blasts or gunshots. In 2013, teams treated a total of 17,000 patients in the hospital and performed 4,500 surgeries.

MSF teams also work in Ahmad Shah Baba hospital in Kabul and Boost hospital in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand Province, as well as a maternity hospital in Khost Province. In all locations where MSF works in Afghanistan, a strict no-weapons policy is implemented to ensure the safety and security of patients. MSF does not accept any government funding for its work in Afghanistan and relies solely on private donations. 

The front gate at the MSF trauma hospital in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, is seen November 29, 2011. The MSF hospital opened in August, 2011 and provides surgical care and physical therapy. It is the only trauma center of its kind in the region.
Michael Goldfarb