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Afghanistan: New ambulance service opens in Kabul

01-09-2003 News Release 03/103

As of last week, Kabul residents can call an ambulance. A new service has been set up with the support of the Norwegian Red Cross, and last week the ICRC handed over to the Ministry of Public Health five ambulances donated by the Kuwait Red Crescent Society.

Until now, Kabul has had no permanent system for calling an ambulance, leaving the sick and injured at risk. The ambulance service forms an important addition to ICRC health projects in Afghanistan, and will focus on surgery, trauma management and first aid. The control room is at the Ibn Sina Emergency Hospital, which the ICRC has supported throughout decades of conflict in Kabul.

" Years of war have caused extensive damage throughout Afghanistan, and the emergency health service has been no exception. The ICRC has a long history of co-operation with the Afghan health sector and today history meets the future " , said the ICRC's head of delegation in Afghanistan, Pierre Wettach.

Few people in Kabul have phones at home, so radio call points have been installed at 20 locations around the capital, enabling the public to call for assistance. Drivers and nurses have been recruited and staff have received training.

As of last week, the service was operational from 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., seven days a week. More ambulances will arrive in the coming weeks, and the service will eventually operate 24 hours a day every day, including public holidays.

The Ministry of Public Health will run the Kabul Ambulance Service, which will form an important part of its Emergency Medical Service.

 Further information:  

 Helge Kvam, ICRC Kabul, tel. ++93 70 276 465 or ++873 761 24 22 60  

 Eros Bosisio, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 21 01