EMERGENCY began working in Afghanistan in 1999 in the Panjshir Valley, controlled by the Northern Alliance at the time.
In 1999, a former barracks was converted into the EMERGENCY Surgical Centre for war victims in Anabah. Over the years, the admission criteria were extended to include emergency surgery, trauma and elective surgery. Since 2003, with the opening of the paediatric and internal medicine wards, the Surgical Centre for war victims has become a General Hospital for the inhabitants of the Valley.
In April 2001, EMERGENCY opened a second Surgical Centre in Kabul, the capital city, controlled by Taliban at the time.
An abandoned, bombed out nursery school in the city centre became the nucleus of the hospital. Following an armed raid by the Taliban religious police, EMERGENCY temporarily suspended its activities in Kabul, reopening the Centre on November 8th, 2001, during the invasion of U.S. and British troops, to provide surgical assistance to the many civilian victims.
In 2002, following a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the local Ministry of Health, hospital services were extended from war surgery to emergency surgery and trauma. In August 2003, a 6 bed state-of-the-art reanimation and intensive care unit was opened. In August 2005, due to the continuing increase of brain trauma patients, a CT Scan unit was installed, the only one available for free in all of Afghanistan.
At present EMERGENCY's hospital in Kabul is the most important centre for war and trauma surgery in Afghanistan.
In September 2004, EMERGENCY opened a third Surgical Centre in Lashkar-gah, the capital city of Helmand province, Southern Afghanistan.
The Centre, named after the Italian journalist and pacifist Tiziano Terzani, offers high quality surgical assistance to the population of a vast area where free health care is completely lacking. The Southern regions of Afghanistan are theatre of intense fighting between Taliban, Afghan troops and foreign troops - the majority of victims are civilian, involved against their will in daily firefighting, suicide bombings, air bombings. At EMERGENCY's Surgical Centre in Lashkar-Gah, 40 percent of the admitted patients is under 14 years old.
The three Surgical Centres are also linked to the First Aid Posts and Primary Health Clinics network we run in the country to offer medical care to the inhabitants of isolated areas.