Why are we there?
- Access to healthcare
- Bahrain: MSF concerned at healthcare access
- Bahrain: MSF condemns armed raid on its offices
- Bahrain: MSF staff member remains detained
Protests began on 14 February 2011 in Bahrain. Within two days, a Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) team was in the country to conduct an assessment of medical needs.
In March, MSF was invited to give training to about 40 health professionals from both the public and private sectors on managing care for large numbers of injured people.
Good-quality healthcare is available in Bahrain, but MSF noted at that time that access to services was hampered. Health facilities and personnel had been drawn into the centre of the conflict.
In its report, Health Services Paralysed by Bahrain’s Military Crackdown on Patients, published in April, MSF raised concerns about the loss of neutrality of Bahrain’s medical facilities, and the related deprivation of care for numerous sick and wounded people.
While engaging with the government and awaiting a response to its proposal to assist, MSF continued to provide basic first aid to the sick and injured.
Between March and July, staff brought assistance to almost 200 patients who did not seek care in public health facilities because they feared being arrested for involvement in the protests or affiliation with protesters.
Raid on MSF premises
In July, MSF’s premises in Bahrain were raided, and a local staff member was arrested and detained. He was released in early August.
Since then, MSF has been pursuing negotiations with the authorities to register formally in the country.
MSF has proposed the set-up of mental health activities for health workers and people in distress, and offered to support emergency preparedness at hospitals and to help restore trust in the health system.
At the end of 2011, MSF had three staff in Bahrain. MSF started working in the country in 2011.
Abdul*, 29 years old
“I stayed in Salmaniya for five days after I was wounded in the protests. The police used to come into the ward regularly to prevent us from sleeping. They would come in with masks and sticks. It was scary. They would come at 1am and hit us.
"I begged the doctor to discharge me. I wanted to leave. It was not safe for me in the hospital. When I tried to run away, I was arrested by the police. I was taken to a police station where I was blindfolded and beaten.
"They finally let me go at 3am. I found a nurse to treat me at home. If I go back to the hospital now to get more treatment they will ask me how I got these wounds and then beat me more.”
When the MSF team examined Abdul during a medical assessment, he was suffering from pain in his chest and had difficulty using his right hand, which had been bound.
* The patient’s name has been changed.