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Want to make a difference in the world? Médecins Sans Frontières – Doctors Without Borders are, and you can too!

Most of us want to make a positive impact in the world, but we are not always sure how to do so, and our lives tend to already be pretty full and busy. But there are some organizations that we can rely on. They are already on the ground, and doing the important work; all we need to do is support them in whatever way we can.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical aid and healthcare is a topic that has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind. It is clear just how important access to proper healthcare is. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to access medical aid. This is a truth that Médecins Sans Frontières is trying to change.

Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, also referred to in English as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian non-governmental organization that provides medical care and saves lives for those living in conflict zones, natural disasters, and epidemics.

This Nobel Prize-winning emergency humanitarian medical organization is made up of tens of thousands of health professionals and administrative staff that work together to provide care wherever it is needed most – hence the “without borders” portion of their name. Médecins Sans Frontières believes that all people should have access to healthcare no matter their race, religion, gender, or political affiliation.

How Médecins Sans Frontières came to be

Médecins Sans Frontières was founded in 1971 in France by thirteen doctors and journalists. The creation of MSF was in direct response to the war and famine occurring in Biafra, Nigeria at the time. A number of French doctors volunteered with the French Red Cross in order to work in hospitals and feeding centres.

After witnessing civilians being murdered and starved by the Nigerian army, the group of French doctors criticized the Nigerian government and Red Cross for their complicit behaviour. These French doctors wanted to create an independent organisation that would be able to deliver medical aid to those in need regardless, ignoring any political or religious boundaries.

The Médecins Sans Frontières Charter

All of the Médecins Sans Frontières members agree to honour the following principles:

  • “Médecins Sans Frontières provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters, and to victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance and claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions.
  • Members undertake to respect their professional code of ethics and maintain complete independence from all political, economic, or religious powers.
  • As volunteers, Members understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out and make no claim for themselves or their assigns for any form of compensation other than that which the association might be able to afford them.”

(Retrieved from Médecins Sans Frontières)

Médecins Sans Frontières and COVID-19

Currently, Médecins Sans Frontières is responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, just like they did with other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). MSF has committed substantial resources to developing dedicated COVID-19 projects in a variety of countries around the world. The support they provide is often in the form of training in infection prevention and control, as well as health promotion and organization of healthcare services.

Some examples of the COVID-related work they have been doing include:

  • Hajjah Governorate, Yemen: MSF teams have been working in Abs ad Al-Jamhouri hospitals in order to set up COVID-19 screening points, as well as establishing an 11-bed capacity isolation unit in Abs hospital.
  • Indonesia: MSF teams are conducting workshops and training for doctors and community health workers who treat COVID-19 cases.
  • Rome, Italy: MFS teams are working in informal settlements to manage contact tracing and isolation for COVID-19 clusters in 10 buildings.
  • Belgium: MSF teams are working in three regions of the country to accompany nursing homes in carrying out medical care for residents.

Other projects

In addition to helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, MSF has been instrumental in treating a wide variety of illnesses such as hepatitis C, measles, kala azar, malaria, meningitis, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and more. They also address specific health needs such as safe abortions, malnutrition, mental health, sexual violence, and surgeries/trauma care.

How you can help

There are a variety of ways that you can show your support to Médecins Sans Frontières and the amazing work that they do.

  1. Monetary donations – you can make a one-time donation or a monthly donation to MSF in order to help provide them with the funding they need to provide care effectively and quickly to those in need.
  2. Fundraise – fundraising events can be wildly successful and fun for your community! Consider putting on a fundraiser for MSF.
  3. Consider MSF in your will – think about leaving a gift to MSF in your Will in order to make a difference in the lives of others!
  4. Check out all the different ways you can make a difference on the MSF website. 

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