After 14 years of presence in Pakistan’s Kurram district, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is withdrawing from the area. The authorities have refused to issue a No Objection Certificate (NoC) without providing any explanation. Without a valid NoC, MSF cannot continue medical activities in Kurram Agency.
“MSF is saddened by the decision from the authorities responsible for NGOs working in Kurram Agency. The closure brings to an end 14 years of MSF working with the FATA Health Services in Kurram Agency,” said MSF country representative, Catherine Moody. “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 within 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.
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MSF has operated a wide range of care in Kurram
In Sadda hospital, MSF has been responsible for the outpatient department for children under five years and 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 supporting the MOH maternity department by managing emergency transfers to 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 leishmaniasis and immunization for children, as well as supporting the Ministry of Health and 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.
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In 2016, in Sadda and Alizai, 36,498 and 6,416 outpatient consultations were respectively 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 during 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 who have been affected by natural disasters, conflicts or lack of access to healthcare since 1986.