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Medical Humanitarian Programme MEDEVAC

Medical treatment programme for children in serious health conditions from countries affected by war.  

History of the MEDEVAC Programme

The inception of the MEDEVAC Programme (from English:  "MEDical EVACuation") dates back to the beginning of the 1990s where there was a war conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the end of 1993, the UK military air force evacuated a seriously injured girl, Irma Hadžimuratović, from the besieged Sarajevo together with four other children to London. It was beyond the power of the doctors in Sarajevo to help her under the local conditions. Despite every effort of doctors in London, Irma died.  Still, her sad story aroused activity of the international community to help those for whom medical care in the place of conflict or another disaster is not sufficient. The deed of the British was a kind of a symbol for entire Europe that the Czech Republic decided to pursue.

A four-year-old girl, Alesandra Vujica, was one of the first little patients coming for treatment to the Czech Republic. She was hurt by a grenade in Busovača, Bosnia. Local doctors worked hard to help her survive. However, her injuries required specialised care which could be provided at Motol Hospital in Prague. This was the first time when the Czech Republic implemented the MEDEVAC Programme.

Alesandra was followed by other seriously injured children and several adults from Bosnia. After the war in the former Yugoslavia ended, the Czech Republic's aid seemed to have been only a temporary activity. But the war in Kosovo that started in 1998 proved this was just an illusion. The MEDEVAC Programme again focused on the treatment of children with severe injuries, mostly of the war origin. When the war ended, efforts to reconstruct the local health care system showed that there had been a serious problem of neglected heart defects in children. Thirty children were gradually airlifted to the Czech Republic where they underwent heart surgeries which gave them hope to normal life.

Similarly, children with serious heart defects were treated within the MEDEVAC Programme after the outbreak of the war in Iraq. These children got into care of doctors of the Seventh Field Hospital of the Army of the Czech Republic in Basra and they were in such a serious health condition that they could not be treated in the field conditions. The MEDEVAC Programme has been closely connected with the Army of the Czech Republic and the Children's Heart Centre of Motol University Hospital since 2003.

In the following years, the MEDEVAC Programme was also activated to include the victims of the devastating earthquake in Pakistan in 2006. The Programme was also implemented in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2010.

In connection with the rising number of armed conflicts in the world (Libya, Syria, Ukraine), the MEDEVAC Programme returned its focus on war injuries of adult patients in 2011. In the years 2012-2013, a total of fourteen Syrian patients (8 adults and 6 children) were transported to Motol University Hospital for treatment in the Czech Republic.

In the autumn of 2013, the government of the Czech Republic approved continuation of the programme of humanitarian evacuations of inhabitants with health issues (MEDEVAC) for the nationals of the Syrian Arab Republic. A team of doctors from the Children's Heart Centre of Motol University Hospital worked in the capital of Jordan, Amman, where they performed six surgeries of congenital heart disease in children.   Two more patients were selected to undergo a surgery in the Czech Republic.

Until 2013, the MEDEVAC Programme primarily involved medical evacuations to the Czech Republic for treatment. A total of 171 foreign patients, predominantly children, were treated within the MEDEVAC Programme between 1993 and 2013.

Activities in the years 1993-2013 included the treatment and surgeries of foreign patients airlifted to the Czech Republic as part of the MEDEVAC Programme at Motol University Hospital, General University Hospital in Prague, Bulovka Hospital and Královské Vinohrady University Hospital.

Photo gallery MEDEVAC - Archive Photo gallery

MEDEVAC 1993-2013
medical humanitarian airlifts for treatment in the Czech Republic
Country of origin Number of patients
Bosnia and Herzegovina 17
Kosovo 40
Chechnya 1
Iraq 42
Pakistan 10
Afghanistan 14
Cambodia 10
Libya 20
Burma 3
Syria 14
Total 171

 


Department of Asylum and Migration Policy, 16 January 2017

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