39 admitted, 14 undergo surgery Following violent protests over the reported Quran burnings at Bagram airbase, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) received 50 patients at its surgical hospital in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. Protests have been raging across Afghanistan over the past week since the Quran burnings were first reported. Demonstrations Saturday turned violent in Kunduz as protesters tried to storm the UN compound in the province.


Afghanistan © Michael Goldfarb/MSF
A young Afghan man is transferred to another bed before undergoing an emergency operation in the surgical ward at the MSF hospital in Kunduz in December 2011.

“It all happened very quickly. We saw almost 30 patients over the course of an hour when the violence first started, most of them in critical condition and needing immediate care,” says Silvia Dallatomasina, MSF’s medical coordinator in Kunduz. The MSF surgical hospital received a total of 50 patients, of which 39 were admitted, the majority suffering gunshot wounds. Three patients died, the rest have been stabilized and treated or referred to the regional hospital. MSF surgical teams carried out 14 operations throughout the day and into the night, including vascular surgery and treatment of fractures from gunshots. Since August 2011, MSF has been running a surgical hospital in Kunduz providing urgent surgical care and follow-up treatment for people wounded in the conflict, and for those suffering from life-threatening injuries. Hundreds have been treated in the hospital since it opened; it is the only specialized surgical hospital of its kind in northern Afghanistan.


Afghanistan © Michael Goldfarb/MSF
An MSF vehicle enters the front gate of the MSF trauma hospital in Kunduz in November 2011.

A strict no-weapons policy is implemented in all locations where MSF works in Afghanistan to ensure patient safety and security. MSF teams also work in Ahmed Shah Baba Hospital in Kabul and in Boost Hospital in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province. As in Kunduz, MSF provides free medical care in both locations, and works in all wards of the hospitals. MSF plans to open a maternity hospital in Khost Province in early 2012. MSF relies solely on private donations to carry out its work in Afghanistan, and does not accept any government funding.

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