As the sun went down and the ridges of the Mitumba mountains turned a smoke blue, a line of mothers sat quietly on a wooden bench in front of the nurses’ station in the pediatric tent. The children lying prostrate in their laps were new admissions, too weak to protest against the nurses, who wore miner’s headlamps to help search for a vein to place a drip.
Chris Bird, a former Reuters and Guardian reporter, put down his notepad and left more than 10 years of news reporting to study medicine with the intention of returning to the front lines where he can be hands-on saving lives and alleviating the kind of suffering he once wrote about.
The hospitals that I’ve visited since the clashes started are often quite chaotic scenes with many doctors and nurses unable to reach the hospital because either they live in areas that are still not secure or they can’t travel through the city from one side to another. There’s a shortage of health workers inside the facilities, but there is a huge number of people who are responding as volunteers and who are going to the hospitals to try and support and assist where they can. But this is creating quite a chaotic environment.
Some hospitals have run out of life-saving medication and equipment. There is little electricity and insufficient fuel to run ambulances and some crucial equipment. The current fighting in the city will put strained medical facilities under even more pressure.
Jonathan Whittal, MSF’s emergency coordinator in Libya.
In Tripoli, where fighting has increased dramatically in recent days, several medical facilities report serious shortages of materials and staff. MSF is preparing to expand our medical response in western Libya to meet urgent humanitarian needs. Learn more.
BRUSSELS, AUGUST 3, 2011 — The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today condemned an armed raid on its premises in Bahrain and the subsequent detention of one of its staff members.
On July 28, armed security personnel violently raided MSF’s premises in Manama, damaging office property and confiscating all medical and office equipment and supplies. A Bahraini MSF volunteer, Saeed Mahdi, who works with the organization as a translator and driver, was arrested.
Since February, when demonstrations began in Bahrain, MSF has seen almost 200 injured and ill patients who did not seek care in health facilities because they feared being arrested for any involvement in protests. The MSF team has seen patients in villages across the country who have refused urgently needed hospitalization due to the high risk of arrest, and others who were severely beaten in jail. Full press release.
With all populations in crisis, it is challenging enough for health agencies and humanitarian aid workers to gain access to, and the trust of, communities—especially populations already skeptical of the motives of any outside assistance.
It’s 40 degrees heat in the day [approximately 104° F], malaria is endemic, and the rainy season is beginning. They may have escaped bombs, but it’s still an emergency for these people.
Carole Coeur, a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency coordinator in South Sudan
South Sudan is a chronically food insecure area where less then 25 percent of people have access to even basic health care. The annual hunger gap—a time of year between harvests when food is particularly scarce—has started, and the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by violence, along with an additional 300,000 southerners who returned from homes outside the region in anticipation of independence, place a serious burden on critically limited resources such as food, water and shelter.