Jawahira was referred to the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) tuberculosis (TB) hospital in Kandahar earlier this year from a clinic in Daikundi, central Afghanistan. “I used to visit private clinics, but instead of giving me TB medication, they usually just prescribed painkillers,” she said.
MSF’s 24-bed TB hospital in Kandahar is the only medical facility providing advanced TB care in southern Afghanistan. Many of the patients come from the nearby provinces of Helmand, Uruzgan, Nimroz and Zabul, but others travel from more than 200 miles away, from Farah, Dikondi, Badghis, Ghazni, and Paktika provinces.
“Our catchment area is so big, it is impossible to know exactly how many people are in it,” said MSF medical advisor Allieu Tommy. “Many travel from afar, and we support them by paying for transport costs, housing expenses, and food to alleviate some of the economic burden.” Without such incentives, most patients could not afford to come for treatment.