Afghanistan: MSF postpones possible reopening of the Khost maternity

The independent medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has postponed the decision on whether to resume work in our Khost maternity. With five weeks passed since an explosion occurred inside the maternity, wounding seven people, we still do not feel that the environment is secure for our patients and staff.

“Nothing is more important to us than safety in our hospitals. As a medical organisation and guests in Khost, we have to rely on other actors to ensure we can treat the patients without the threat of violence. We call on all relevant actors in Khost to do what they can to make sure that the environment is safe enough for us to return,”  said Benoit DE GRYSE, MSF Country Representative in Afghanistan.

MSF will continue to monitor the situation in Khost and carry out consultations with the community there. We are also awaiting results of the investigations being done by all relevant authorities. There is no date set for when a final decision will be taken on whether to open the maternity again.

“It was a difficult decision to suspend our work in Khost, where we have invested so much resources and more than 100 staff are working, but unfortunately circumstances makes it impossible to continue our work. It is unacceptable that the lives of our patients should be put at risk when they are seeking healthcare,” said Benoit De GRYSE.

Before MSF suspended activities, staff at the maternity performed more than 600 deliveries and helped 100 women who had complications during their pregnancies. There is an enormous need for free, quality maternal healthcare in eastern Afghanistan, and MSF deeply regrets that the current environment makes it impossible for us to continue the work we started.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from much of the Khost community, but we cannot return unless we are certain that we can provide healthcare in a secure environment,” said Benoit De GRYSE.

MSF teams also work in Ahmad Shah Baba Hospital in eastern Kabul and Boost Hospital in Lashkargah, Helmand Province. The organisation also runs a trauma center in Kunduz, providing life-saving surgical care to people in northern Afghanistan. In all locations, MSF provides medical care free of charge and works in all wards of the hospitals. MSF relies only on private funding in Afghanistan and does not accept money from any government.