Lashkar-Gah Surgical Centre
Over 30% of the admitted patients in Lashkar-gah Surgical Centre are under the age of 14.
In 2004, EMERGENCY opened a Surgical Centre for war victims in Lashkar-Gah. Named after the Italian journalist and pacifist Tiziano Terzani, the centre is the only free specialised facility in an area – the Helmand province – where fighting between Afghan National Army troops and the Taliban, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) aerial strikes, and antipersonnel mines are all still a very heavy threat for civilians.
In 2015, the fighting intensified, particularly in the Babaji, Nadali, Marjah and Sangin areas, resulting in Helmand Province becoming one of the most dangerous regions in the country. These levels of violence were the worst EMERGENCY had witnessed in the 11 years we’ve been present in the region, and the number of wounded people visiting the hospital in Lashkar-Gah is constantly on the rise: 2017 saw 3,961 people being admitted in the centre, and 24 war-wounded civilians visited every day.
Network of Aid
Since opening the main centre, EMERGENCY has been working on establishing a network of aid for civilians in the more remote areas surrounding Lashkar-Gah. This has largely been achieved through setting-up six first aid posts in the villages of Grishk, Garmsir, Marjia, Sangin, Musa Qala and Urmuz.
Unfortunately in 2015 we had to close the Marjah post because of worsening safety conditions, however, the post was reopened in early 2016 in a more easily accessible part of the Marjah district. Wounded patients are stabilised at these first aid posts and then transferred to the hospital by ambulances, which operate 24/7.
Despite roads having become much more dangerous in the past years, with serious consequences for patient transportation, our main surgery has continued to experience a high influx of patients.
The Afghan Ministry of Health has officially recognised the Lashkar-Gah hospital as a training centre for emergency surgery and traumatology, with four Afghan surgeons currently having completed their training at the facility.
There are four girls, a little boy and a woman. The man accompanying them says that their home was struck during a counter-Taliban offensive, most likely an attempt to push back the group, which have been edging closer to the city for days.
Sat on benches outside the A&E Department are another child and an infant, covered by the dust into which their home has been transformed. Fortunately they are unhurt, but frightened and hungry. For days their family has not been able to find enough food.
A few hours later, at 5am, 26 patients arrive together, all suffering from firearm or shrapnel wounds. It took them many hours to get to our hospital.
In Lashkar-Gah, Afghanistan, each day involves a constant succession of arriving patients. We are here to guarantee treatment to whoever needs it. But the hope remains that the entire population of Helmand can return back to their homes, without risk of injury from a projectile, bomb or mine – without risk of becoming yet more ‘collateral damage’.
The Lashkar-Gah Surgical Centre features in the Vice News documentary ‘What We’re Leaving Behind’
Location: Lashkar-Gah (Helmand)
Start of clinical activities: September 2004
Activities: War surgery and trauma surgery
Bed capacity: 96
Facilities: A&E, 2 Operating Theatres, Sterilisation, Intensive Care, Wards, Physiotherapy, Radiology, Laboratory and Blood Bank, Pharmacy, Classrooms, Playroom, Technical and Auxiliary Services.
National staff: 270
Surgical operations: 48,226
(Data correct as of 31 December, 2017)