May 26, 2024

Violence in Mali cuts off health care access.

Violence in Mali cuts off health care access.

Andrew Steffens in Mali 

The increasing violence between rival factions in central and northern Mali is impeding people’s ability to obtain medical treatment, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has cautioned.

Violence has escalated in central and northern Mali as a result of the conflict between the Malian army, backed by Russian allies, and non-state armed groups.

In the final week of November, MSF was forced to relocate our personnel from Nampala to the town of Niono in the Ségou region due to concerns about their safety. Residents in the surrounding area, as well as patients and workers from MSF, shared reports of fatalities and injuries in the villages and hamlets of Toulé and Toladji. MSF was the only remaining medical organization still in operation in Nampala.

“When MSF chooses to depart, it’s because the circumstances have escalated to a critical level. ”

AISSAMI ABDOU, COORDINATOR OF OPERATIONS FOR MSF

Aissami Abdou, who is the MSF operations coordinator, stated that in the past few weeks, we had to evacuate some of our teams and temporarily suspend certain medical activities in the Ségou and Timbuktu regions. “When MSF began working in Toulé and Toladji, we were told by some individuals that they had gone without seeing a doctor for seven years. ” We frequently have the distinction of being the final humanitarian agency to operate in delicate regions. When MSF chooses to depart, it is because the circumstances have reached a highly serious level. We worry about individuals not directly involved in the conflict but still affected by the violence and facing challenges in accessing healthcare.

The repercussions of violence on Mali’s communities.

Lately, additional acts of violence have also made it more difficult to access healthcare.

Between August and December 2023, the insurgent group JNIM stopped the flow of essential supplies into Timbuktu. The city and its nearby regions were difficult to reach via both land and river. Due to numerous attacks and threats, officials enforced a curfew and prices for basic necessities increased, while food and fuel supplies were reduced.

Jean Jacques Nfon Dibie, who is MSF project manager in Timbuktu, mentioned that the town’s remoteness has affected some of MSF’s activities. Due to challenges with accessibility and security concerns, MSF has had to restrict its operations and staff movements, evacuate certain personnel, and navigate issues with medical supply, logistics, and fuel. Certain medical oversight has been temporarily paused. This has affected the things we do.

In Niafounké, located in the Timbuktu region, MSF and Ministry of Health personnel provided medical care to 29 injured individuals in the hospital’s emergency department after a military camp was attacked on November 24th. MSF assisted in prioritizing patients based on the severity of their injuries and provided necessary medications and medical supplies to treat them.

MSF staff and operations are vulnerable to security risks.

In September, a vehicle belonging to MSF was fired upon while transporting a medical referral from Hombori to Douentza in Mopti. The pregnant woman, experiencing complications, was being transported to Douentza Hospital in a vehicle. The expectant mother was with her mother when the accident occurred, resulting in her mother’s death and injuries to herself and two other passengers.

The number of lethal accidents involving explosive devices is on the rise. Three vehicles coming back from the market were destroyed by explosive devices at three separate spots along the Gossi-Hombori road in central Mali overnight from October 22 to October 23. Eight individuals lost their lives and approximately forty others were injured, with 11 sustaining severe injuries. All the injured were taken to the Hombori community health center, where MSF teams provide medical assistance.

The overall safety situation in central and northern Mali is concerning. The communities are being adversely affected by the violence, leaving people feeling stuck and helpless. It is also having an impact on MSF.

Abdou stated that all parties involved in the conflict should remember to respect and spare our staff, ambulances, and health facilities.

MSF’s actions are driven by global medical principles, specifically the obligation to avoid causing harm and to aid any individual at risk with compassion, neutrality, and reverence for medical privacy. We need to maintain our medical work. Individuals in need of assistance must receive proper care and treatment.

Regarding the activities of MSF in Mali

MSF has had a presence in Mali for over 35 years, starting in 1985. In the year 2022, MSF provided 552,800 outpatient consultations, admitted 68,000 individuals to the hospital, conducted 1,830 surgical procedures, and offered treatment to 900 individuals for deliberate physical harm and injuries from war in the nation.

MSF is currently conducting ongoing projects in Kidal, Gao (Ansongo), Timbuktu, Niafounké, Mopti (Ténénkou, Douentza, and Koro), Ségou (Niono), and Sikasso (Koutiala), as well as in the capital city of Bamako. We offer a variety of emergency services to address the crucial needs of individuals nationwide.