When fighting escalated across Afghanistan last May, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) doctor Shah* and his colleagues at Boost hospital made the difficult choice to keep working. This 300-bed hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, is a lifeline for people here.
The team spent 12 days sleeping in a bunker under the hospital, leaving only to treat patients. “When patients came in, we would wake up and run to the emergency room,” Dr. Shah said. “We stayed in the hospital to treat our patients. It was very dangerous outside.” As the United States accelerated its military withdrawal, the Taliban (also known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or IEA) mounted a major military offensive and eventually took power in Kabul in mid-August. The Taliban declared that the war was over. But MSF’s work wasn’t over when the fighting stopped. In the weeks that followed, MSF teams around the country were inundated with patients. Many of these people had long delayed seeking medical care for fear of being caught in the crossfire.
*Name has been changed to protect anonymity.