Afghanistan: A Long and Dangerous Road

Abdul Ghani from Garsmir holds his 8 year old daughter Fatima waiting in line for an OPD appointment at Boost Hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, Southern Afghanistan.
Mikhail Galustov
Click to hide Text

After over a decade of international aid and investment, Afghans still struggle to access critical medical care due to insecurity, distance, cost, or the dysfunction of many health facilities. There has been some progress, but maternal and infant mortality in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world, casualties from violence are mounting, and unmet medical and humanitarian needs continue to soar.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) runs a specialized trauma center in Kunduz, in the north of the country, as well as a maternity hospital in Khost in the east. MSF also works alongside the Ministry of Public Health, supporting Ahmad Shah Baba district hospital in eastern Kabul and Boost provincial hospital in Lashkargah, capital of Helmand province. Over the past year, the number of patients treated by MSF has nearly doubled—a clear indication of the enormous medical needs in Afghanistan.

Unpaved roads throughout Afghanistan make medical care from hospitals difficult during the rainy or winter months. A woman walks up a road on TV mountain in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
A camp for the internally displaced is located on the western outskirts of Kabul. Thousands of people live in the camp, most are from Helmand or Kandahar where they have fled their homes due to heavy fighting. Children wash themselves in mud puddles.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
A camp for the internally displaced is located on the western outskirts of Kabul. Thousands of people live in the camp, most are from Helmand or Kandahar where they have fled their homes due to heavy fighting. This baby was born inside a mud and tent home inside the camp. The mother has continued to bleed for a week since the birth and says she can't stand.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
The city of Kabul, Afghanistan, is full of traffic and military roadblocks, making emergency travel to hospitals difficult.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
A widow begs for food or money on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
Scene outside of a local pharmacy in Kunduz city, Northern Afghanistan.
Mikhail Galustov
Abdul Ghani from Garsmir holds his 8 year old daughter Fatima waiting in line for an OPD appointment at Boost Hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, Southern Afghanistan.
Mikhail Galustov
An injured man is being led by a relative at the Kunduz Trauma Centre in Kunduz, Northern Afghanistan.
Mikhail Galustov
Eva Kusikova, ER doctor from Slovakia and her Afghan colleagues reanimate a head trauma patient injured in a motorbike accident at the ICU of Kunduz Trauma Centre in Kunduz, Northern Afghanistan.
Mikhail Galustov
MSF medical staff treats a female patient in the OPD of Kunduz Trauma Center in Kunduz, Northern Afghanistan.
Mikhail Galustov
His mother fanned away the flies with her headscarf as he laid on the gurney, medication making him pain-free for probably the first time in years. The doctors and nurses who entered the room wore surgical masks to cover the smell. Twelve-year-old Chamangul Gahn has the body of a boy half his age. But his head is abnormally large, swollen with infection and cancer, malformed and wrapped with bandages. His mother brought him to the MSF mobile clinic in Puli Charki village after being turned away from the hospitals inside Kabul. MSF doctors here say he has an aggressive form of sarcoma that has rotted most of his head, one ear and eye completely gone. His mother feeds him with a straw. She is a widow, living with her seven other children in a tent surround by other Afghans displaced by the violence and weak economy. Her oldest, 15 years old, is a day-laborer to keep the family alive. The mother has already buried two of her children of Chamangul’s same illness. If it was caught earlier maybe the doctors here could have helped, the doctors say. But for now, it is only about easing the pain.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
Muhammad Fazal (40), farmer from Pol-e-Charhi, was shot by mistake by the Afghan Army Special Forces who picked him up, applied a tourniquet on his injured leg and handed him to his relatives. The tourniquet was too tight, there was not time mark and the soldiers did not explain Muhammad's relatives to remove the tourniquet after some time. The relatives put him in a taxi and drove to Kunduz, a few hours away. By the time Muhammad arrived at the Kunduz Trauma Centre, the tourniquet had been on for 4 hours. After the internal fixation surgery, doctors decided to amputate his leg above the knee. On the photo, physiotherapists show Muhammad simple exercises that he should start doing few days after the amputation.
Mikhail Galustov
Najibullah (first from left), a father of 11 children, had his left leg amputated after an injury. On July 4, 2013, he was working at a construction site when a firefight broke out nearby at the Char Dara district of Kunduz province. Trying to escape, Najibullah was shot in the leg. The road was closed by police and his relatives had to keep him at home while he was losing blood until the fighting stopped the next morning. He arrived at the Kunduz Trauma Centre in a critical condition. Security situation is often a fatal barrier for people seeking medical care in Afghanistan. On the photograph, he's waiting for a check outside of the OPD of Kunduz Trauma Centre in Kunduz, Northern Afghanistan.
Mikhail Galustov
A patient is transferred to another hospital from the emergency room at the Ahmed Shah Baba hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
In Kabul, Afghanistan, midwives check the health of a newborn baby at the Ahmed Shah Baba Hospital.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
Children come for vaccinations and other care at the MSF mobile clinic in the village of Spina Poza just east of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images
A woman and her child fix the roof of their home in the village of Spinar Poza just east of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Andrea Bruce/Noor Images