50 years of medical care in conflict

Dr. Essa Jama is from Somaliland and has been working with MSF for 10 years. He has completed assignments in Yemen, Afghanistan, Kenya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Somaliland, Lebanon and Papua New Guinea

50 years of medical care for people under siege

As a doctor having worked in active conflict areas like Yemen and Syria, I have seen first-hand the devastation that war and violence can bring to human lives, which is why conflict interventions have remained at the heart of MSF’s work for the past 50 years.

That said, providing medical humanitarian assistance during conflict is much more complex than simply arriving at a hospital and supporting local colleagues in treating patients. I will never forget treating patients with gunshot wounds, burns and blast injuries in Yemen. The hospital faced dire shortages of essential items to respond effectively to these injuries. Things like pain medication, antibiotics, vaccines, and anesthetic drugs, as well as wound and burn dressing materials and surgical equipment were not available. We had to use what was available to us and do what we could to alleviate suffering.

But what of the lives of people outside of the emergency room? While managing trauma cases is an essential part of what we do in conflict areas, other health crises emerge. With little to no healthcare, epidemics and malnutrition surge, women struggle with maternity complications, and mental health issues are exacerbated as people find themselves under extreme stress. These health issues cannot be ignored.

In this issue of Mamela we dissect the knock-on effects of conflict and through our fieldworkers’ and patients’ stories give you a glimpse of what war is really like. While many of the stories are harrowing, there is still a strong sense of hope and determination. We hope these stories remind you how your regular donations save lives around the world. It is only through donors like you that we have been able to provide critical medical care for the last 50 years.