CARING FOR BODY AND MIND IN AFGHANISTAN
Kunar province in Afghanistan is one of the areas hardest hit by violence linked to the conflict in the country. Première Urgence Internationale is developing its psychological first aid activities in order to respond to the suffering of these populations.
In Kunar province, in the north-east of Afghanistan, weeks in which there is no major incident are rare. The conflict continues and is affecting populations who can suffer severe psychological distress and social and mental issues. To respond to this suffering, Première Urgence Internationale teams are working in health facilities with the aim of strengthening emergency psychological support as part of medical activities so as to avoid more serious trauma in the medium and long term. This project is part of the expansion of the organisation’s care activities for conflict victims, financed by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) since May 2013. In this crisis situation, it is essential to bring together emergency medical care and psychological first aid. “I am happy to work to help the population, because in Afghanistan the number of people affected psychologically is very high. We deliver psychological first aid in order to limit trauma,” explains Malalai, a midwife who participates in health activities.
In 2015, Première Urgence Internationale has given practical training in psychological first aid to 70 members of staff in health facilities, including doctors, nurses, psycho-social consultants, trainers of community health workers, and midwives. This training allowed 240 people to receive psychological support in the Kunar province in September 2015 alone. For Ihsanullah, a psychosocial consultant, “this project is having a positive impact on our practice and it’s a good way to help people to improve their lives.” Wahab, who trains community health workers, explains: “I’ve learnt a lot during training. Before, I didn’t really know how to help a person suffering from trauma and I didn’t have a lot of information about psychological first aid. Now, I have all the knowledge I need.”
This project, implemented in Kunar province, is a pilot scheme that the Afghan Ministry of Health is aiming to reproduce in other provinces in the country.