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Medical News and Perspectives
November 21, 2001

Afghanistan Aid Workers Struggle Through Threats

JAMA. 2001;286(19):2387-2389. doi:10.1001/jama.286.19.2387

Washington—Wearing a turban and carrying a fake passport, John McGill, MD, trekked hundreds of miles across rugged mountains, intent on delivering care to war-weary Afghanistan. He hid from a regime intent on killing him. He operated under the dull light of a spelunking helmet. He pulled shrapnel from the bodies of children.

Saying good-bye to colleagues and abandoning her pediatric ward, Nicola Johnson, MD, trekked hundreds of miles across rugged mountains, barred from delivering care to war-weary Afghanistan. She fled a brutal regime and an anticipated attack. She holed up in a cramped office in Pakistan. Now she wonders which children, which friends, which colleagues will suffer the metallic sting of shrapnel.

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