“As of 15th July, MSF’s team in Kashmir has successfully reached several medical facilities to assess needs and provide relevant support. Despite ongoing movement restrictions, we have been able to donate medical materials in the much affected South District, Pulwama, and we have begun delivering psychological first aid to patients in need at the Bone and Joint Hospital in Srinagar and will continue to do so in other affected areas in the coming days. Psychological first aid, usually given to distressed people following a crisis, is done to enhance coping mechanisms following traumatic experiences and to provide practical assistance through sharing information about support services.”
Due to clashes in the Kashmir Valley, since Saturday 9 July Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s regular mental health services in the region have been temporarily interrupted. Curfews, road blocks and other movement restrictions are in place in several parts of the states, preventing our teams from travelling for much of the weekend and the beginning of this week.
While MSF’s work in Kashmir focuses on mental health, as an emergency organisation we are monitoring the general healthcare situation and if necessary we will be able to provide additional emergency medical assistance, mobilising resources from outside the Kashmir region as appropriate.
From Sunday 10 July, our teams managed to reestablish contacts with several medical facilities in the region receiving people wounded during the unrest, including the Government Medical College, the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences and the Psychiatric hospital. These facilities reported that they are able to handle the patient numbers arriving, and did not require additional support for the moment. We are keeping communication lines open with these and other medical facilities in the area, and have made our offer of further emergency medical support clear to them. We will continue to liaise with them to determine if and when additional support in terms of healthcare provision and/or emergency response is needed.
MSF has also seen reports of attacks on healthcare in the media, including on social media. We find these reports troubling, as we do in all places we hear them, but we are not in a position to confirm them in this instance. We are only able to report on what we have seen directly, and none of our staff has witnessed attacks on healthcare firsthand.
MSF has worked in India since 1999 providing free-of-charge essential healthcare to people in remote areas, and specialist care for people affected by HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, acute febrile illnesses, tuberculosis, kala azar and sexual and gender-based violence. We currently run projects in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Telangana and West Bengal. MSF was awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 1996 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.