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ICRC Health Programme in Afghanistan - March 2002

18-04-2002 Operational Update

To re-establish and sustain medical and surgical services disrupted by over 20 years of conflict and provide adequate care for wounded and sick, the ICRC supports existing local medical structures.

To re-establish and sustain medical and surgical services disrupted by over 20 years of conflict and provide adequate care for wounded and sick, the ICRC supports existing local medical structures. The range of assistance varies according to needs. 6 key referral hospital receive full and continuous support. Some structures receive assistance in order to upgrade their capacity. Others receive occasional supplies, mainly of consumables and medicines, but the infrastructure and equipment is not systematically touched. Other structures currently not in the Health programme are being assessed and integrated according to the programme capacity.

 Fully support to 6 referral hospitals  

The ICRC provides full and continuous support to 6 key referral hospitals that would otherwise be unable to provide adequate level of care to the local population : Jalalabad (200 beds), Ghazni (60 beds), Kandahar (200 beds), Gulbahar (60 beds) and 2 in Kabul (Karte seh and Wazir Abdar Khan, 200 beds each).

Medical, surgical and non medical supplies are delivered on a monthly basis. Infrastructure and equipment are rehabilitated if deficient to maintain a standard level of care. Regular supply of fuel and other consumables is established and maintained. Financial incentives are regularily provided for the staff (in addition to their salaries), as well as training in various fields if necessary. Each hospital is permanently monitored by one health delegate.

Last year over 140,000 patients were admitted in total in these 6 hospitals, half of them women and children.

 Assistance to upgrade 5 regional hospitals.  

In the areas most affected by the conflict in the past years, several medical structures were either heavily damaged, looted and some had been neglected for so long that they were unable to face the medical and surgical needs in their areas. Since December the ICRC has started a large rehabilitation project to upgrade structures and their medical performance in Bamyan, Samangan, Shebergan, Taloqan and Kunduz hospitals.These hospitals have a bed capacity that varies from 30 up to 150. As an ongoing activity, depending on the needs, the ICRC is currently re-equipping the hospitals with regard to operating theatres including surgical, anaesthetic and sterilisation equipment and supplies. The ICRC engineering team works to restore water and electricity supplies, repair the heating system and carry out other building maintenance work.

Beds, mattresses, lights and stoves are also delivered, in addition to medical supplies and health kits to treat patients. A pipeline for supplies and fuel is established.

In Bamyan and Taloqan an expatriate surgical team works and trains the local staff.

 Ad hoc assistance to other medical structures  

Depending on the needs other medical structures are occasionally provided with medical supplies, equipment. In some cases rehabilitation of basic infrastructure such as water and electricity is performed. Hospitals in Mazar, Pul-i Khumri textile and Maimana are assisted in this way. Others are currently being evaluated.

 Emergency Interventions  

In 2001 while the internal conflict was still raging in Afghanistan, over 30 hospitals and health clinics were assisted on ad-hoc basis.

16 First Aid Posts set up along frontlines received regular supplies of first aid kits and drugs.

After the September 11th attacks, two ICRC convoys managed to bring in essential drugs and 15 surgical kits in preparation to treat up to 1,500 war-wounded before the onset of the air strikes.

In Kabul, food donations, stoves, fuel and wood were distributed to 10 hospitals and the windows damaged by the bombardment were replaced. 

Food rations were delivered in December to some 5,500 medical staff of the Ministry of Public Health as an incentive.

In Dec/Jan, four most needy hospitals in Kabul were assisted with a one time off donation of medicines and consumables to cover the needs of 1000 patients for 3 months.

Following the earthquake on March 25, the ICRC delivered War Wounded Kits to the affected area's medical structures with additional medical, surgical and orthopedic equipment.

 'War-Wounded Kit'  


 1 kit weighs 942 kg and can treat up to 100 patients with a set of surgical instruments and drugs specially developed and prepared for the treatment of war-related wounds.  


 The kit, which is normally provided to surgical wards, contains items such as infusions, catheters, drainage and injection material, X-ray films, surgical sutures and dressing material.