PESHAWAR: Authorities asked Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, a global medical charity, on Wednesday to wind up its operations in Kurram Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), officials confirmed.
Country Representative of MSF Catherine Moody told The Express Tribune that they had been asked by authorities concerned to shut their operations in Kurram Agency.
“There has been no explanation … why we have been told to close our operations?” she said. “Our NOC was not extended,” she explained, adding that because of the suddenness of the decision, the organisation had still not devised a strategy for coping with the consequence of this decision.
“We are still figuring out what to do with our staff and also how to leave patients in our care.”
An official of the political administration, who did not want to be named, said that the decision was taken during a meeting held on September 12. He, however, declined to share details.
MSF has been working in Pakistan since 1986, assisting local doctors during natural disasters and providing healthcare to conflict victims.
Currently, MSF operates a 60-bed paediatric hospital in Quetta, while running a mother and child health centre in Kuchlak and carrying out humanitarian work for both Afghan refugees and locals near the Afghan border in Chaman as well as Jaffarabad and Naseerabad.
In Fata, MSF operates in Bajaur Agency’s Nawagai and Khar civil hospitals. The international organisation had started working in Kurram Agency in 2001, running two hospitals, one each in Sadda and Alizai tehsil headquarters.
According to MSF’s website, it carried out 3,000 consultations a month and provided outpatient care for children up to five-year-old. It also provided patient care for children under 12, besides treating cutaneous leishmaniasis and providing ante-natal care.
Moreover it provided obstetrics facilities and emergency referrals. It also supported the ministry of health in emergencies.
At the smaller Alizai hospital, it conducted as many as 120 paediatric outpatient consultations each week with a temporary medical point set up at the New Durrani camp in May to assist displaced people.
The letter asking MSF to shut down its operations was issued by the additional agency surgeon of the Lower and Central Kurram just referring to authorities concerned in Peshawar.
It gave a week-long deadline for complying with the decision.
“MSF is saddened by the decision of the authorities responsible for NGOs working in Kurram Agency. The closure brings to an end 14 years of MSF working with FATA Health Services in Kurram Agency,” stated MSF’s Country Representative Catherine Moody.
“We will continue to provide obstetric and neo-natal services to women in Fata through the MSF Women’s Hospital located in Peshawar.’
MSF has informed its team in Kurram Agency, elders of Sadda and Alizai and members of the local community about this decision. Necessary measures to close health services provided by MSF in Kurram Agency would be completed within a week.
MSF has been working in Kurram Agency since 2004. Since 2008, they have been present in the Tehsil Headquarters Hospitals in Sadda and Alizai.
MSF relies solely on financial contributions from individuals around the world and does not accept funding from any government, donor agency or military or politically-affiliated group for its activities in Pakistan.