MSF announces to hand over DHQ Timergara to health department

Shahid Hussain Yousafzai

TIMERGARA: Doctors Without Borders - Medecines Sans Frontiers (MSF) has announced to gradually hand over its activities in the District Head Qurater (DHQ) Hospital Timergara, Lower Dir to the Department of Health, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by January 2021.

A hand out released by the MSF Pakistan office said “It has been very important for the MSF to be part of the community for the last 10 years. Our intention when we opened this project was to provide support in addressing the medical requirements, and not to replace the MoH. We are thankful to the authorities and the community for their support over the years, and we will continue to work closely together throughout the handover process.”

A steering committee would be formed in collaboration with the MoH to manage the handover process as per the plan of handing over the emergency department by March 2020, new-born unit by August 2020 and the maternity by January 2021. The MSF would undertake capacity building activities with the DHQ hospital staff over the coming months, and donations were also planned for the hospital to ensure a smooth transition and continuation of services to the population, the hand out added.

MSF has been supporting the District Headquarter Hospital Timergara since February 2009. Its teams have provided medical services in the emergency department, and offered comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care. Other MSF services in the Timergara DHQ Hospital include a cardiac corner in the emergency room, a kangaroo mother care unit, health promotion activities, psychological counselling, emergency X-rays, sterilization, laundry, blood bank and waste management activities. Only from January to September 2019, MSF has treated 140,055 patients in the emergency department, assisted 11,201 births and admitted 1,683 new-borns to the DHQ hospital.

In addition to working in Timergara, the MSF also addresses some of the urgent medical needs in the districts of Peshawar, Qilla Abdullah, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Quetta and Karachi, alongside the MoH. These activities include the mother and child healthcare, and in 2018 MSF assisted around 30,000 deliveries in Pakistan. MSF also focuses on specific diseases, and treated more than 5,000 patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis and over 1,100 patients with hepatitis C, during the last year.

“MSF remains committed to supporting the MoH in meeting the medical requirements in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. At the same time as handing over services to the MoH in Timergara DHQ Hospital, MSF remains in discussions with the KP health authorities to identify other areas where MSF can have an added value,” MSF’s country representative added.

Meanwhile, the Lower Dir district remained in a state of deep sorrow and grief after the news regarding MSF halting its activities in the area went viral and the public, social and political circles expressed deep concern over the move terming it a great loss to poor patients who cannot afford expensive treatment in private clinics and health facilities.

They demanded the concerned quarters to convince the NGO to review its decision and continue its activities in the larger interest of the poor patients belonging to Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Chitral and Bajaur.

Earlier, when the news about the MSF folding up its activities in Lower Dir went viral, hundreds of Lower Dir residents took to the social media and expressed concern over the decision terming it an irreparable loss to the residents.

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