MSF suspends medical programmes in Pakistan's Balochistan

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Islamabad, April 7, IRNA -- The international medical humanitarian association Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has suspended activities in parts of Balochistan province after a recent incident of firing in its vehicle, which injured two security men.

The suspension of activities leaves 100,000 children and 18,000 pregnant women without medical assistance from MSF in an area with very limited health services, PierluigiTesta, the head of Mission for MSF in Pakistan said.

On 4 April, while returning to Dera MuradJamali from the clinic in Mir Hassan, a mobile team of MSF was caught up in gunfire initially directed at the government-mandated escort by unknown assailants. Shots were also fired at the MSF vehicle carrying the medical team who returned safely without further incident. None of the MSF staff were injured, though a bullet went through the windscreen of the MSF vehicle.

"We had to suspend our medical activities after the shooting at our vehicle," said Pierluigi Testa.

"It was a difficult decision, because this suspension directly impacts on children and women, the most in need of medical care. But it is impossible for our team to work and provide medical aid without a minimum guarantee of security and respect for humanitarian work."

The suspension will affect MSF's medical programmes outside DMJ with mobiles clinics and fixed health posts supporting mother and child healthcare, particularly safe delivery, and emergency feeding programmes for children under-five in Mir Hassan, Sohbat Pur and Dera AllarYar. Life-saving medical activities will continue in the District Head Quarter Hospital in Dera MuradJamali.

MSF insists that to continue to provide urgently needed healthcare to the people of Nasirabad and Jafarabad, the safety and security of medical activities, medical facilities, healthcare personnel, and vehicles must be guaranteed by all parties.

Currently MSF has 900 children under five in the therapeutic feeding program admitting on a monthly basis around 150 new children. Each month MSF admits and treats around 60 neonates and babies in the nursery of the inpatient department, and around 60 children under five in the paediatric ward. MSF teams carry out about 60 deliveries each month, of which half of them are complicated cases, and perform an average of 15 c-sections.

MSF has been working in the districts since 2008 and runs four feeding programmes for malnourished children under-five. Since the end of 2009, the team started medical assistance in the Dera MuradJamali District Headquarter Hospital where it is providing emergency obstetric care, including services for women in need of complicated deliveries and caesarean sections.

**1416 Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30328133