Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation committed to two objectives: providing medical assistance to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion, natural and man-made disasters, and speaking out about the plight of the populations assisted. MSF offers assistance to people based only on need and irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.
Founded in 1971 as a not-for-profit organisation, today MSF is present in more than 60 countries, where thousands of MSF doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, and other medical and non-medical professionals work together to bring essential health services to people caught in humanitarian crises. Services and activities include provision of emergency medicine, response to epidemics, war surgery, nutrition and vaccination campaigns, operating feeding centers for malnourished children, mental health care and support to hospitals and clinics.
In emergencies and their aftermath, MSF provides essential health care, rehabilitates and runs hospitals and clinics, performs surgery, battles epidemics, carries out vaccination campaigns, operates feeding centers for malnourished children, and offers mental health care. When needed, MSF also constructs wells and dispenses clean drinking water, and provides shelter materials like blankets and plastic sheeting. Through longer-term programmes, MSF treats patients with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, and HIV/AIDS, and provides medical and psychological care to marginalised groups such as street children. MSF is often one of the first humanitarian organisations to arrive at the scene of an emergency. Its large-scale logistical capacity ensures that MSF emergency teams hit the ground with the specialised medical kits and equipment they need to start saving lives immediately.
Independent Humanitarian Action
MSF's decision to intervene in any country or crisis is based solely on an independent assessment of people's needs and not on political, economic, or religious interests. MSF does not take sides or intervene according to the demands of governments or warring parties.
MSF volunteers frequently work in the most remote or dangerous parts of the world. When crises unfold, they make themselves and their skills available on short notice, usually dedicating six to 12 months to each assignment. Their expenses are covered and they receive a modest stipend. MSF teams are composed of international volunteers and other skilled local staff. Together, they work closely with national medical professionals and cooperate with other aid organisations.
Speaking Out to End Suffering
MSF unites direct medical care with a commitment to speaking out against the causes of suffering and the obstacles to providing effective assistance. Its volunteers raise the concerns of their patients with governments, the United Nations, other international bodies, the general public and the media. In a wide range of circumstances, MSF volunteers have spoken out against violations of international humanitarian law they have witnessed from Chechnya to Sudan.
Based on its field experience, MSF is addressing obstacles preventing people in the developing world from obtaining affordable, effective treatments for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Through its Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, MSF advocates for lower drug prices, stimulate research and development of new treatments, and overcome trade and other barriers to accessing treatments.
Worldwide, MSF raises public awareness of the plight of people at risk. The organisation sends field volunteers and staff to speak at international and national conferences, and arranges informational events and traveling exhibitions. Special public education projects have addressed the stark realities of living without access to medicines, the devastation caused by malnutrition, and the hardships of life in a refugee camp.
Financial Independence and Accountability
To maintain its operational independence and flexibility, MSF relies on the general public for nearly 89 percent of its operating funds. The remaining 11 percent of funds come from international agencies and governments. The organisation counted more than 3.8 million individuals, foundations, corporations, and nonprofit organisations among its donors worldwide in 2009. In 2009, MSF's worldwide income was €665.5 million.
For more about the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, refer to www.msf.org.