Pakistan: MSF Treats Victims of Bomb Blast in Swat District

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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MSF responds to a bomb explosion in Mingora, the main city of Swat District in Khyber Pathkunkhwa Province.

Following an explosion at midday in Mingora, the main city of Swat District in Khyber Pathkunkhwa Province, medical teams from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Pakistan’s Ministry of Health, treated 58 injured people, some of whom were seriously wounded.

“Soon after the blast occurred we started to receive a steady flow of people at the emergency room of Saidu Group Teaching Hospital (SGTH),” said Sonoko Shidehara, an MSF doctor in Swat. “We’ve seen 58 patients, including women and children. Most are now in a stable state, but two patients are still in critical condition.” Emergency preparedness is crucial for an adequate response to events like this. For this reason, hospital staff are being trained to implement mass casualty plans and triage which enable the sorting of injured people into groups according to their needs.

“This means that we can first give immediate and urgent medical care to those most seriously wounded,” said Dr. Shidehara. “People arrived with severe head traumas, chest injuries, and serious shrapnel related wounds in their arms and legs.”  

“The explosion occurred at a busy time of the day, and afterwards, crowds rushed to the hospital to see what happened and to check on family and friends," said Josep Prior, MSF Field Coordinator in Swat. "When people gather in the emergency room, this compromises the space we need to carry out urgent medical activities. However, through the cooperation of those around, we did manage to keep only patients and medical staff inside the ER."

After a one year absence, MSF recently returned to Swat in order to address specific medical needs identified in the casualty department of SGT Hospital. Working together with staff from the Pakistani Ministry of Health, MSF teams are now boosting the emergency room by providing medical personnel, regular trainings, specialized emergency equipment, and lifesaving drugs all free of charge.

As a medical organization that is focused on providing emergency medical care, MSF is not involved in any efforts to rebuild Swat, nor is it part of any military or political strategy. To maintain its independence, MSF chooses to rely solely on private donations and as such does not accept funding from any government for its work in Pakistan.

To be able to provide lifesaving assistance to patients in need, MSF urges all members of the community, political parties, armed forces, and armed opposition to respect the neutrality of health facilities.

As of January 2010, MSF already treated more than 25,000 emergency cases in Khyber Pathkunkhwa, in the causality departments of the District Head Quarter hospital of Timurgara, the Tehsil Head Quarter hospital in Dargai, as well as the Saidu Group Teaching Hospital in Mingora.

Since 1998, MSF has been providing free of charge medical assistance to Pakistani nationals and Afghan refugees suffering from the effects of armed conflicts, poor access to health care, and natural disasters in the North West Frontier Province (Khyber Pathkunkhwa), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan, and Kashmir.

MSF chooses to rely solely on private donations for its work in Pakistan and does not accept funding from any government.