Beyond Borders

  Collateral Damage!The term has been so ubiquitously and loosely used that it has lost all meaning except one- almost always the party at the receiving end is helpless and hapless. And never has it been brought in to greater focus than recently with the October 3rd bombing of the hospital at Kunduz in Afghanistan, manned by the Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF). Thirty people lost their lives and numerous lay injured. Explanations will be given and blame may be proportioned but humanity is yet again the casualty. Disaster relief work is the kind of frontier medicine which takes special people with a calling to do; they bring their skill sets, ingenuity and heart to a task most difficult. MSF has been tackling health problems in some of the most difficult parts of the world over the last 40 years. This Nobel winning humanitarian organisation has consistently gone with their team of healthcare workers and logisticians into parts of the world where natural and manmade crises have ravaged the helpless. Biafra, East Timor, Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Rwanda, Afghanistan- there has been no strife torn part of the world which the MSF has not sent their team to. Egalitarian in nature, the team leads are often nurses or logistics people- who so ever are best equipped to lead. Extremely resourceful, the logistics team at short notice is able to set up spare yet fully functional medical facilities from scratch, so the health care professionals can get to work as soon as they land up. As part of an MSF mission in 1999 when the Eastern coast of India was hit by a super cyclone, we were in the island villages off the coast of Orissa working with people marginalised in every sense- the Bangladeshi families inhabiting...