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Médecins Sans Frontières

Medecins Sans Fronteieres/Doctors Without Borders

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – also known by its English name, Doctor’s Without Borders – is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters.

I first came across the organization and their work whilst studying at the Australian Defence Force Academy, and through my subsequent work in the military and my studies, notably Human Rights Law, my respect for MSF simply grew and grew.

MSF’s work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.

MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas. Medical teams conduct evaluations on the ground to determine a population’s medical needs before opening programs. The key to MSF’s ability to act independently in response to a crisis is its independent funding. Ninety percent of MSF’s overall funding comes from private sources, not governments. In 2008, MSF had 3.7 million individual donors and private funders worldwide.

MSF is neutral. The organization does not take sides in armed conflicts, provides care on the basis of need alone, and pushes for increased independent access to victims of conflict as required under international humanitarian law.

Today, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. MSF reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, to challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols.

In 1999, MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Simon Turner

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