After 14 years in Kurram district, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Pakistan, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is withdrawing from the area. Without providing any explanation, authorities have refused to issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC). With no valid NOC, MSF cannot continue medical activities in Kurram Agency.
“MSF is saddened by the decision from the authorities responsible for non-governmental organizations working in Kurram Agency,” said country representative, Catherine Moody. “The closure brings to an end 14 years of MSF working with the FATA Health Services in Kurram Agency. We will, as much as possible, continue to provide obstetric and newborn services to the women of FATA through the MSF Women’s Hospital located in Peshawar.”
MSF has informed its team in the Kurram Agency, the elders of Sadda and Alizai, and the local community about the decision. The necessary measures to close the health services provided by MSF in Kurram Agency have started and should be completed by the end of the week.
MSF teams have been working in the Kurram Agency since 2004. Since 2008 they have been present in Sadda and Alizai hospitals.
In Sadda hospital, MSF was responsible for the outpatient department for children under five years and the inpatient department for severely ill children up to 12 years old. The newborn unit treated babies born prematurely and those experiencing complications immediately after birth. If necessary the team also facilitated emergency referral to tertiary care hospitals by providing ambulance services and medical transfer staff.
MSF was also supporting the Ministry of Health (MoH) maternity department by managing emergency transfers to other maternity facilities, including MSF’s Peshawar Women’s Hospital. MSF provided the ambulances and all medical support required during the transfer. In addition, MSF provided diagnosis and treatment facilities to the community for cutaneous leishmaniasis and immunization for children. It supported the MoH and the Federal Disaster Management Agency in responding to emergencies, disease outbreaks, and mass casualties.
In Alizai, MSF was responsible for the outpatient department and observation room for children under 12 years.
In 2016, in Sadda and Alizai, 36,498 and 6,416 outpatient consultations were conducted. The Sadda hospital admitted 1,946 patients and treated 414 patients for cutaneous leishmaniasis. A total of 736 children were admitted to the newborn unit in 2016.
MSF continues to provide free outpatient, emergency and maternal healthcare in Bajaur Agency in FATA, as well as providing medical care in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces. MSF relies solely on private financial contributions from individuals around the world and does not accept funding from any government, donor agency, or military or politically-affiliated group for its activities in Pakistan. MSF has been working with Pakistani communities affected by natural disasters, conflicts, and lack of access to healthcare since 1986.