In this story series, UN Peacekeeping shows the impact of Action for Peacekeeping, which guides peace operations across 12 active missions.
“There are times when peacekeepers require immediate specialist attention in remote areas … with this technology, the specialist may save a life,” says Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Takondwa Itaye Kamangira, the first female commandant of the Light Mobile Surgical Module in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
To fulfill their mandate of protecting civilians, peacekeepers serving with The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) often face dangerous situations in remote areas, with limited access to medical services. A new Light Mobile Surgical Module deployed with the Malawi Battalion has significantly improved the safety and security of peacekeepers.
Operating 24 hours, the Light Mobile Surgical Module has a static and mobile component, run by 31 peacekeepers. The static component works as a referral medical center for Level 1 hospitals and has an operating theater, emergency, radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, and intensive care unit. The mobile component is a van equipped with a surgical theater and state-of-the-art equipment that travels with the troops in hard-to-reach areas.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) telemedicine is “healing from a distance.” In the field, when peacekeepers and partners have medical emergencies this is an excellent way for surgeons to support a medical officer without being physically present.
Rapid response is critical to saving lives.
“90% of people die in combat due to profuse bleeding. This facility is always closer to the troops,” says Captain Tadziwana Kapeni.
When evacuation by air or road is not possible after a peacekeeper has been injured, the mobile module can provide immediate surgical resuscitative measures before the patient can be transferred to a higher level of care.
During operation SABINYO in Kiwanja, eastern DRC, there was intense fighting between the FARDC and the M23 armed group, resulting in three Moroccan soldiers serving with MONUSCO sustaining life-threatening injuries. The mobile surgical team provided immediate resuscitation and surgery whilst under fire. Without their presence, the patients would have died within hours, as evacuation was not possible amidst ongoing firing in a no-fly zone.
Since the Light Mobile Surgical Module began its operations in May 2022, its personnel have assisted countless of injured peacekeepers.
“This technology is a force multiplier and should be integrated in modern day combat medical care even in the civilian context,” says Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Chitekwe from the Malawi Battalion. “I believe peace is possible and it begins with all of us as peacemakers.”
|The safety and security of peacekeepers is a key area of the Action for the Peacekeeping agenda and its implementation strategy A4P+, which seeks to enhance accountability to our peacekeepers. Continually improving the medical, technical and logistical support to peacekeeping operations is at the heart of the strategy, along with efforts to bring the perpetrators of crimes against Blue Helmets to justice.|