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Mali: Landmines restrict access to healthcare
Three weeks after military operations began in northern Mali, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continues to work in the areas of Mopti, Gao, Ansango, Konna, Douentza, and Timbuktu, providing life-saving treatment and emergency surgery to patients.
Primary and secondary medical care
In Konna, the pivotal area between Mali’s northern and southern sectors where MSF gained access last week, teams have already provided over 600 consultations.
Having established themselves in the health centre after medical staff fled the only medical facility in the town, MSF also treated four war-wounded patients, three of them children who were injured after playing with an unexploded device. The children were stabilised in Konna and later transferred to the nearby Sevare Hospital for further treatment.
Further north, in Douentza, MSF continues to work in the city’s hospital. The medical staff remained at the hospital around the clock during the intense bombing of the city, conducting approximately 450 medical consultations per week.
As the situation begins to calm, the number of weekly consultations has slightly increased, returning to an average of 500 per week. Doctors also attended to three patients with bullet wounds on January 29th, and referred one case to Sevare Hospital.
Mobile clinics remain suspended following confirmed reports of landmines in the area. MSF has also increased its surgical capacity and re-stocked its medical supplies in order to strengthen the medical services provided to the population.
In Timbuktu, medical activities are on-going, particularly in paediatric, obstetrical, emergency, and surgical care. Over the past 20 days, MSF treated some 30 wounded patients at the Timbuktu hospital.
Since January, medical teams on the ground have conducted some 9,000 regular medical consultations in the region. Medical supplies and medicines have also been delivered to the nine health centres that MSF supports in the Timbuktu region.
MSF has been working in the Timbuktu region for more than 10 months and continues to handle large numbers of patients. In 2012, MSF conducted 50,000 medical consultations (approximately one-third of them for malaria), hospitalised 1,600 people, and performed more than 400 operations.
Activities in Gao
MSF is working in two health centres in and around Gao, in the communities of Wabaria and Sossokoira. Activities in a third location, Chabaria, have been temporarily suspended due to security concerns.
Each day, medical teams are conducting approximately 60 to 65 medical consultations at each centre. This volume has remained steady even as the conflict has intensified, though MSF has suspended its mobile clinics, which had been providing access to medical care to people who could not reach any of the fixed sites.
Further south, in Ansongo, MSF is providing primary and secondary care, as well as surgery, in the local hospital, while also ensuring the delivery of supplies and medicine so that teams can respond effectively in the event of an influx of wounded patients.
Concern for the displaced
In Mali’s interior, possible insecurity, the presence of landmines, travel constraints and communications issues are complicating efforts to assess the health status of displaced persons and maintain large scale humanitarian operations.
The United Nations has recorded 380,000 Malians who are either internally displaced or living as refugees in neighboring countries since early 2012. The agency says more than 150,000 refugees have also fled to Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria, with some 6,000 new refugees being registered in Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso in January.
MSF in Mali
MSF works in Mopti, Gao, Ansango, Konna, Douentza and Timbuktu, as well as in the southern part Mali, with a comprehensive paediatric programme (primary and secondary preventive and curative care) in the region of Sikasso and provides care to Malian refugees in the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger.