our field workers
Back to 2021 and the raging Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the change of regime, make the situation turbulent in Afghanistan. It is an unpredictable year.
Dr Mafeitzeral Mamat, an Anaesthesiologist from Malaysia, joined the MSF mission in Khost Maternity Hospital in the middle of this situation.
This was his first MSF mission and the journey from Malaysia to Afghanistan alone is challenging. "When I was about to fly to Afghanistan, Malaysia was under a “Movement Control Order” due to the pandemic. Until the last minute, I didn't know if I could get there smoothly."
The pandemic has affected immigration and logistics around the world and the replacement of international staff in different MSF projects has also encountered many difficulties . Fortunately, he finally arrived in Afghanistan successfully, just a little later than planned to start his rescue mission.
"In this busy hospital, my job is to ensure it to provides quality and safe anaesthesia services. At the same time, I will also provide training and guidance to seven local Anaesthesiologists and will be involved in a lot of clinical work."
When he start working, he realised that many of the patients admitted to the hospital had tested positive for Covid-19. "You need to be incredibly careful to protect yourself from infection. Due to the lack of resources in the local area, our stock of personal protective equipment is limited. Sometimes we just wash and reuse equipment such as face masks, but we still adhere to the guidelines of infection prevention and control, and they are effective. "
Leaving his familiar environment, going to another county with a hugely different culture, and collaborating with medical staff from around the world, this was Dr Mamat’s reaction: "You need to keep an open mind to deal with the constant changes and difficulties; just try your best to solve the problems in harsh conditions. This will lead you to overcome one difficulty after another and persevere."
In mid-August 2021, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban) took power again and many organisations retreated one after another. International aid was suspended and the local medical needs were soaring. The MSF team continued to provide medical care to the people there .
Khost Maternity Hospital, in which Dr Mamat served, usually concentrates on handling cases of pregnancy complications but to meet the rapidly increasing medical needs, it has decided to relax the admission requirements to ensure women in Horst Province can receive medical services and give birth to babies safely. The number of hospital admissions and deliveries per week grew .
"Medical demand has increased and manpower is tight. What strikes me is that even in times of instability, local medical staff will try their best to come back to the hospital to work and continue to provide treatment to patients."
"In the mission, even though you will face many hard challenges, the most important thing is to remember your intention of serving, which will allow you to remain wise and persistent in the face of difficulties. This intention will lead you to overcome all kinds of difficulties and challenges, and those from different cultures and values.”