Afghanistan earthquakes

Devastating earthquakes

On 7 October 2023, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck west Afghanistan, followed by tree aftershocks, causing numerous deaths and injuries.

People struggle to access medical care in Afghanistan, where – even as the government has collapsed and uncertainty has set in – we remain to address people’s needs.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) focuses on emergency, paediatric, and maternal healthcare in Afghanistan, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

We work in one hospital in Helmand province in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health. We also run a maternity hospital in rural Khost province, a drug-resistant tuberculosis programme in Kandahar, and a trauma centre in Kunduz. We treat malnourished children, who have been displaced, in Herat province, where we also run a COVID-19 treatment centre.

Major attacks on our staff and hospitals have occurred in recent years; in October 2015, US airstrikes destroyed our trauma centre in Kunduz, killing 42 people, including 14 MSF staff. An armed group attacked our maternity wing at Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul in May 2020, with 16 mothers and an MSF midwife among those killed. In the wake of the attack, we made the difficult decision to withdraw from the hospital in Kabul, leaving women in the area without critically-needed emergency obstetric care.

In August 2021, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (also known as the Taliban) entered the city of Kabul as the government collapsed. MSF teams have stayed in place and continue to provide care.

A medic in MSF's Kunduz Emergency Trauma Unit examines the x-ray of a patient who has suffered a complicated fracture due to a bomb blast. August 2021. © Stig Walravens/MSF 

Need for healthcare access

The public healthcare system in Afghanistan is dysfunctional, and has been under-resourced, under-staffed and under-funded for years – well before the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) came to power in 2021. Patients often struggle to access even basic and preventive health services, meaning their health problems deteriorate and require more advanced medical treatment. Donor funding is keeping the healthcare system afloat, but it is not a long-term solution. The people of Afghanistan urgently need a health system that meets their needs.

The ripple effect of pre-existing sanctions and the additional financial measures taken against the IEA government are being felt nationwide. The economy has been crushed, leaving millions of people out of work and struggling to find employment. Food prices have soared across the country. Those people with jobs are supporting more family members, and many people do not have enough to eat or are delaying seeking healthcare as they cannot afford it.  

What are we doing in Afghanistan

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff continue to treat high numbers of patients for a wide range of health conditions. In September, we assisted over 3,758 deliveries, admitted 905 severely malnourished children to our facilities, and provided ambulatory nutrition treatment to 989 children, pregnant women or women who had recently given birth. And while our main focus continues to be on providing secondary healthcare, we also see a significant influx of patients in our outpatient departments. For example our project in Lashkar Gar triaged 23,591 patients in the Emergency Room in September - the highest number of any recorded month this year.

Maternal healthcare

By providing free, high quality maternal and neonatal healthcare in two hospitals in Helmand and Khost provinces, we aim to help reduce death and sickness in mothers and their newborns. Training medical staff is an integral and important part of our projects.

Tuberculosis treatment

We support the diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis. In Kandahar province, in the south of the country, we run a laboratory, as well as facilities for hosting patients during their treatment.

Trauma care

We opened a new 30-bed trauma centre in Kunduz in August 2021. The centre treats people with trauma injuries, for example, as a result of road traffic accidents, and people injured in the fighting who have complications.

Treating malnutrition

In both Herat and Helmand provinces, we treat malnourished children in inpatient therapeutic feeding centres; those coming to the centre at the regional hospital in Herat have often travelled some distance to get there.


MSF's Dasht-e-Barchi maternity ward in West Kabul, which was closed after the heinous attack on mothers and midwives in May 2020. © Sandra Calligaro 


In Kandahar, our teams have provided 12,750 consultations to patients for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tuberculosis so far this year, with 1,522 in September alone. These numbers represent a considerable increase when compared to the same time period last year, when we provided a little over 7,000 consultations. This spike is largely caused by the improved security situation in the country and people’s ability to move more freely and seek healthcare. However, MSF’s financial support launched at the beginning of 2022 to provincial laboratories that offer TB testing likely plays a role as well.  

Médecins Sans Frontières also runs nutrition activities in Kandahar with a focus on children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and are 6 to 59 months old. From January to September, 31,544 children were screened in the MSF Therapeutic Feeding Programme in Kandahar. Out of everyone screened until the end of September, 5,224 were enrolled in the Ambulatory Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ATFC) and 426 were admitted to the Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ITFC). The rest did not require treatment of any kind.

During September, 488 patients were enrolled in the ATFC, and 110 children were admitted to the ITFC; this represents 25,8 per cent of all admitted patients to the ITFC this year. This increase correlates with more cases of acute watery diarrhoea in the region – something that has likely been brought about by increasing prices of basic food items. In short: people's nutritional status deteriorates because they don’t have enough money for food. This causes acute watery diarrhoea, which in turn worsens the malnutrition.

Lashkar Gah

The MSF-supported Boost Hospital in Lashkar Gah currently operates with a 340-bed capacity and staff continue to be extremely busy in all departments. In September, we triaged 23,591 patients in the Emergency Room – the highest number of any recorded month yet this year. This spike can be attributed mainly to the fact that many other regional facilities were forced to shut down in recent months due to lack of medical supplies and personnel caused by insufficient funding. Also, colder September weather means more people need primary healthcare for respiratory infections etc. Out of those triaged, 2,948 patients were admitted for inpatient care.

There were 348 severe and acutely malnourished children admitted to the ITFC in September, with high prices of food and increased prevalence of acute watery diarrhoea likely causing the high number. 

Our teams also treated 308 measles patients in September, assisted 1,963 deliveries in the maternity department and provided 1,531 antenatal and 994 postnatal care consultations. The surgical department carried out over 651 major surgeries (operations that require general or spinal anaesthetic).


MSF’s 61-bed Kunduz Trauma Centre has an Emergency Room, Intensive Care Unit, Inpatient and Outpatient departments and three operating theatres. The main reason for admission is trauma due to accidents, but the MSF team also provides care to people injured in explosions and from other forms violence. In September, 1,645 patients were admitted to the Emergency Room (178 less than in August, which was the busiest month on record so far this year) and 1,388 outpatient consultations took place; 168 patients were admitted for inpatient treatment; and 259 surgical procedures were carried out by our medical teams.

The construction of a new operating theatre dedicated to performing specialised internal fixations finished in August. Internal fixation is the insertion of a surgical implant that holds bones in position while they heal from fractures. Normally this procedure contributes to a shorter hospital stay for patients and allows faster physical rehabilitation. So far, we have had 23 patients requiring internal fixation.
In August, we stopped supporting the Kunduz Regional Hospital’s (KRH) measles ward because the number of measles had dropped to a point that is manageable by the KRH. 


The MSF Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ITFC) at Herat Regional Hospital (HRH) treats severely malnourished children who have an additional medical complication. In September, we admitted 375 patients, 136 of whom were under six months old. This represents just a slight decrease in our ITFC activity compared to August (401 patients admitted, 175 under six months old). This continuously high incidence of cases is related to more instances of acute watery diarrhea. It is also worth noting that while last year we admitted on average about 50 patients per week during September, this year we admitted more than 90 patients.   In the Ambulatory Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ATFC), we treated 63 patients in September. 
MSF has also been working in the paediatric department of the HRH, supporting its Emergency Room (ER), Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and step-down unit (part of the inpatient department that provides care to patients who don’t require as regular monitoring as in an ICU but are not yet considered stable enough for normal care). In September, MSF medical staff triaged 18,730 children in the HRH’s paediatric department. More than 80 per cent of these were green (less severe) cases not requiring treatment in the ER. There were 358 patients admitted to the paediatric ICU, with the most common causes of admission being septic shock or severe sepsis, hypovolemic shock and respiratory failure. 

At the Kahdestan clinic, we provide outpatient treatment for children and for pregnant and lactating women. In September, MSF carried out over 5,440 screenings in triage for malnutrition, antenatal and postnatal care, and for non-communicable diseases (just adults). 

The COVID-19 Treatment Centre in Gazer Gah was handed over to the Ministry of Public Health in June, while our support to the 60-bed measles ward in HRH ceased in August.   


A mother and baby in a triage room at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ambulatory therapeutic feeding center (ATFC) in Kandahar city, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. © Lynzy Billing


Between February 2022 and July 2022, MSF undertook renovation work on the paediatric department of the Ministry of Higher Education Maiwand Teaching Hospital, and on 24 July 2022 established a new 34-bed Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ITFC) there. During the month of September, we admitted 72 patients with severe acute malnutrition and treated 173 patients in the Ambulatory Treatment Feeding Centre (ATFC) 

In February 2022, MSF opened a 28-bed measles ward at the same hospital. The ward has six high dependency unit beds where we treat the most critical patients. Over the course of September, we admitted 92 measles patients for treatment.   


Khost Maternity Hospital (KMH) provides maternal healthcare to pregnant women experiencing complications, as well as neonatal care. In September, we admitted 1,775 pregnant women, supported 1,523 deliveries  and 153 patients were admitted to the neonatal ward. 
In September, we screened 1,770 pregnant women for malnutrition, of whom over 15 per cent presented with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and fewer than 1 per cent with severe acute malnutrition (SAM). These women received treatment in KMH as well.  
In addition, MSF teams supported 272 deliveries in eight regional comprehensive health centres.  

Find out more about AFGHANISTAN

Médecins Sans Frontières has been working in Afghanistan since 1980, providing emergency surgical care, responding to conflict and natural disasters, and treating people cut off from healthcare. 

MSF worked in Angola from 1983 until 2007. Why were we there? Armed conflict Endemic/Epidemic disease Social violence/Healthcare exclusion

MSF worked in Argentina from 2001 until 2003. Why were we there? Providing essential medicines and supplies

MSF worked in Belgium from 1987 to 2009

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease Social violence/healthcare exclusion Natural disaster

Why are we there? Endemic/Epidemic disease

Cameroon is facing multiple and overlapping crises, including recurrent epidemics, malnutrition due to food insecurity, displacement, and conflict.

Why are we there? Armed conflict Endemic/epidemic disease Healthcare exclusion

Why are we there? Armed conflict Healthcare exclusion Natural disaster

The political, economic and military crises of 2002-2010 have taken a severe toll on the Ivorian health system.

MSF worked in Ecuador until 2007. Why were we there? Endemic/Epidemic disease Natural disaster

Find out more about MSF's work in Egypt

In France, we work with migrants and refugees, who encounter policies and practices aimed at preventing them from settling or claiming their rights.

Why are we there? Healthcare exclusion

Why are we there? Armed conflict Endemic/epidemic disease Social violence/heathcare exclusion

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease

Haiti’s healthcare system remains precarious in the wake of natural disasters and ongoing political and economic crises. Ongoing disasters have led to Haiti becoming the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Honduras has experienced years of political, economic and social instability, and has one of the highest rates of violence in the world. This has great medical, psychological and social consequences for people.

An MSF team in Hong Kong opened a project at the end of January focusing on health education for vulnerable people. Community engagement is a crucial activity of any outbreak response and in Hong Kong, this focuses on groups who are less likely to have access to important medical information, such as the socio-economically disadvantaged. The team is also targeting those who are more vulnerable to developing severe disease if they are infected, such as the elderly.

MSF worked in Indonesia between 1995 and 2009 Why were we there? Natural disaster

Find out about MSF's work in Iran

Why we are there? Healthcare exclusion Natural disaster

Why are we there? Natural disasters

Jordan hosts over 700,000 refugees, according to the UNHCR, many of whom reside in camps or have settled in the country.

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease Healthcare exclusion

Why are we there? Healthcare exclusion

Although health services are being progressively restored in Liberia, important gaps persist, notably in specialised paediatric care and mental health.

Libya remains fragmented by a decade of conflict and political instability. The breakdown of law and order, the collapse of the economy, and fighting have decimated the healthcare system.

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease Natural disaster

Access to medical care remains very limited in the north and centre of Mali due to a lack of medical staff and supplies and spiralling violence between armed groups.

Why are we there? Access to healthcare

In Mozambique we are responding to emergencies including disease outbreaks, providing care to people with advanced HIV, while also working in the conflict-ridden Cabo-Delgado province.

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease Social violence/healthcare exclusion

Why are we there? Providing comprehensive emergency healthcare to people in remote regions of Pakistan is a priority, yet accessibility and security are a constraint for both Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and patients.

Why are we there? Armed conflict Healthcare exclusion

MSF worked in Rwanda from 1991 until 2007.
Why were we there? Conflict Healthcare exclusion Endemic/Epidemic disease

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease Healthcare exclusion

Why are we there? Armed conflict Endemic/epidemic disease Healthcare exclusion

Why were we there? Endemic/epidemic disease Healthcare exclusion

Why are we there? Refugee assistance

Why are we there? Healthcare exclusion

Why are we there? Armed conflict Endemic/Epidemic disease Healthcare exclusion

Why were we there? Healthcare exclusion

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease

Why are we there? Endemic/epidemic disease Social violence Healthcare exclusion