AZG introduces world’s most sophisticated mobile surgical unit


The local chapter of Doctors Without Borders has introduced its new mobile surgical unit, which brings never-before-seen medical services to the front line of war zones

‘Independent and flexible’

Artsen Zonger Grenzen, the local chapter of Doctors Without Borders, has introduced the most sophisticated mobile surgical unit in the world. The unit’s 10 structures were open to the public on Rogierplein in Brussels at the weekend.

A Flanders News video shows how the unit makes use of its own water and electricity systems. It has an operating theatre, a sterilisation room, a pharmacy and a recovery area.

The fully integral system means that the unit is not dependent on outside services and supplies, which can be difficult to access in conflict areas. The entire unit, which can be altered to provide as many as 16 different spaces, can be set up and fully operational in just 12 hours.

“Doctors Without Borders are sent where they are needed at any given time,” said the organisation’s operational director Bart Janssens. “We are constantly searching for innovation to better respond to emergencies that present themselves in specific places. Thanks to the new surgical unit, we have a great deal more flexibility but also improved quality of care. We can get much closer to the front line and perform actual surgeries, which will save lives.”

The unit has enough supplies, water and electricity to last for at least seven days. “In some situations, it is extremely difficult to offer help: The frontline shifts quickly, access becomes tough and supplies are hard to come by,” said Janssens. “The autonomy and flexibility of this surgical unit is its biggest advantage in responding to these challenges.”

The Brussels chapter of Doctors Without Borders was launched in 1980 and has become one of the hubs of the global organisation’s operations. It employs 440 people, counts on 45 regular volunteers and co-ordinates the activities of more than 10,000 international workers. With nearly 390,000 private donors in Belgium, it is a completely independent non-profit organisation.

Photo: A trial version of the new mobile unit was tested in Mosul last year
©Courtesy Doctors Without Borders