We would like to thank Kathy Kelly, Chicago based humanitarian worker and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, for joining EMERGENCY USA as a guest blog author. After traveling to the EMERGENCY Surgical Center in Kabul, Kelly reflected on her experience in a piece entitled “In EMERGENCY,” which was published on Telesur English on August 13th.This is the first of a five part series in which Kelly reports on the life-saving care provided at the Kabul Surgical Center. By sharing her personal view of EMERGENCY’s impact in Afghanistan, Kelly joins Khaled Hosseini and many other EMERGENCY USA supporters who believe that high quality healthcare is a basic human right. Check back next Wednesday for part 2.
Here in Afghanistan, Carmen, Hakim, Faiz and I went to Kabul’s EMERGENCY Surgical Center for civilian victims of war to donate blood. EMERGENCY isn’t just an apt description of the hospital’s cases; it’s also the name of the Italy-based charity that runs war hospitals and clinics across Afghanistan. Emanuele Nannini, the program coordinator, and Giacomo Menaldo, the chief logistician, spoke with us for several hours about the work done in their facilities and the desperate emergency in healthcare which Afghanistan faces. Besides its Kabul center, EMERGENCY operates two other major hospitals in Afghanistan, one in Lashkar Gah and one in Panjshir. They also operate 43 clinics, some of which treat as many as 2,000 people each month. All patients are treated free of charge. Hakim noted that it’s remarkable that the locals, the Taliban, and the government all want the work of these hospitals to continue. It’s a testimony, he says, to the neutral humanitarian service EMERGENCY provides.
Emanuele, who has worked at the Kabul hospital for five years, says that the violence in Afghanistan is worse than ever. We felt deeply impressed by his and his colleagues’ determination to continue working under extremely stressful conditions even as they realistically predict a rise in fighting and possible massacres during weeks and months ahead.
Nearly every bed in the Kabul hospital is filled. Sometimes, during past months, when they were overwhelmed with patients needing emergency care, they had to narrow their criteria for receiving patients, accepting only those who required vascular, abdominal and thoracic surgeries. Anticipating future violence, the Kabul hospital is now building a new surgery theater plus a wing to accommodate 20 new beds. At the hospital in Lashkar Gah, where every possible space is being used for beds, the staff even had to convert the pharmacy into a new ward.
EMERGENCY has about 45 ambulances moving between ten provinces of Afghanistan, constantly traveling roads through war zones and sometimes having to find new routes to avoid armed groups that are fighting.