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NGO Highlight – Doctors Without Borders

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) means Doctors Without Borders in English. The organization works in over 70 countries, delivering medical aid in conflict and disaster-affected areas. Private donors are the principal source of their annual budget, which amounts to approximately US$1.63 billion.

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What do Doctors Without Borders do?

Doctors Without Borders work across the world to provide those in need with medical assistance. For instance, they work in areas that see conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare services. The organization also deploys professional teams to areas where people require medical care. Many members of Doctors Without Borders are volunteers.

Doctors Without Borders teams include health professionals, such as doctors and nurses. They also work with staff in logistics and administration to ensure smooth healthcare delivery. The units in the field conduct independent reviews that evaluate medical needs. This way, the organization can contextualize their assistance based on real needs on the ground.

Where does the organization work?

Doctors Without Borders work in over 70 countries across all continents. Their priority zones focus on areas with the most need. Therefore the location of their main projects is continually changing. For example, the organization recently began a massive operation in Mozambique, due to the impact of Cyclone Idai.

The organization provides medical services in Africa, Asia & The Pacific, Europe & Central Asia, Middle East & North Africa, the Americas,

What is the history of MSF?

A group of journalists and doctors founded MSF in 1971 in Paris. They saw the devastating effects of the famine in Biafra, Nigeria, and knew they had to do something to stop the human suffering. So, 300 volunteers joined together to start the organization, including nurses, doctors, and other staff.

Today, the MSF movement has over 42,000 people.

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Doctors Without Borders Charter

Doctors Without Borders follows key principles of humanitarian action. These are: impartiality, independence, neutrality, bearing witness, and being transparent and accountable. Their charter sets out these principles, along with several supporting documents.

What do these mean? For example, Doctors Without Borders provides medical assistance irrespective of race, religion, creed, or political convictions. They also follow the universal code of medical ethics and respect the right to humanitarian aid. Further, all members maintain independence from political, economic, or religious powers.

One key difference that sets Doctors Without Borders apart is their approach to bearing witness. Unlike other humanitarian organization, they denounce crimes against humanity. They also raise awareness around atrocities, as well as forgotten health emergencies.

What types of projects does MSF implement?

MSF works in emergency response, medical care and innovation, and supply and logistics.

When it comes to emergency response, MSF deploys when disasters, human-made or natural, strikes. They provide medical supplies and healthcare, rescue support, and set up mobile clinics. They also deliver non-medical supplies where needed.

In terms of medical care, Doctors Without Borders has a wide range of programs. One of their principal actions is in access to medicine for all. They work in areas where people do not have proper access to healthcare, to ensure their coverage. They also address epidemics and pandemics, child health, migrant health, HIV/AIDs, malnutrition, and mental health.

Doctor Without Borders – Project Highlights

Cyclone Idai Response

Cyclone Idai was one of the strongest storms to hit Mozambique and Zimbabwe in history. It made landfall and wreaked havoc between March 14-16, 2019. In response, MSF deployed logistics and medical teams to help those in need after the destruction. Also, their teams have been providing support since, particularly in combatting cholera outbreaks.

Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Since 2016, several countries in Africa have seen repeated Ebola outbreaks. The disease is both severe and highly transmissible. Doctors Without Borders has been providing medical care and emergency response during the various outbreaks, including the latest outbreak registered in the DRC in 2018.

Central American Migration

Each year, nearly half a million people flee extreme violence in Central American countries. Thousands are on the move at any given time, lacking access to essential public services, including healthcare. Doctors Without Borders provide medical services to every person, no matter their legal status or nationality.

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