22-year-old Sharifa is one of the thousands of Afghan mothers struggling to overcome the hurdles that are posed by a healthcare system weakened by decades of war, poor facilities, and social and cultural barriers that are difficult to break.
“Wednesday morning at about 11 o’clock a loud explosion literally shook the whole hospital.” Giacomo, logistician in Lashkar-gah, Afghanistan, tells us: “The windows, doors and some parts of the roof were blown to smithereens by the blast wave. A vehicle packed with explosives had been blown up in front of the entrance to the governor’s palace, about 300 metres from our hospital.
After the explosion we heard shots as well, so we decided to activate the usual “mass casualty plan”. Instead of using tents in the garden as we usually do in these situations, this time we decided to stay under shelter inside the building and to use the canopy in front of our emergency Opd area to carry out the “triage” on the casualties. The sounds of the fighting went on for some minutes but were drowned out straight away by the noise of the ambulances racing to our hospital.
24 casualties arrived, including 3 dead on arrival. Relatives and friends of our local staff were involved in the attack too.
That’s what war is: you leave home in the morning and you’re not sure you’ll be going back, or that all your loved ones will still be there.”