Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Shine your Light Wed: Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) provides medical care in approximately 60 countries around the world.  

They work in countries where there is war, epidemics, malnutrition, natural disaster, etc.  Regardless of who a person is or who they might be affiliated with, every person is eligible to receive medical care from this organization.  There is no discrimination when it comes to saving someone's life or giving them the care they deserve. MSF is an "international medical humanitarian organization" started in 1971 by doctors and journalists in France.  MSF has worked in countries such as Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Darfur, Serbia, Iraq, Pakistan, India, and even now, Haiti.  In many cases, they have spoken out for increased awareness and more medical attention to many of these countries, even winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.  They speak up for the poor, for the needy, and for the hurting; people such as street children, refugees, prisoners, unemployed, drug users, sex workers, etc., can find treatment and compassion with MSF.  MSF is not affiliated with any parties, be they religious, political, etc., and they are completely funded through private donors.

MSF is made up of not just doctors; their workers also include nurses, lab technicians, mental health professionals, epidemiologists, logistics experts, administrators, etc.  A lot of their workers come from the communities they are attempting to help; only 10% of teams are international workers. In 2006, MSF medical teams gave more than 9 million outpatient consultations; hospitalized almost half a million patients; delivered 99,000 babies; treated 1.8 million people for malaria; treated 150,000 malnourished children; provided 100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with antiretroviral therapy; vaccinated 1.8 million people against meningitis; and conducted 64,000 surgeries (Doctors Without Borders website).  They not only provide medical care, including vaccination clinics, but they help communities to acquire sanitary drinking water, help to rebuild hospitals, and have field teams who help to supply basic life needs when people are displaced in disasters or situations where they are forced from their homes.  Some of the epidemics and diseases they've helped to treat are malaria, cholera, measles, meningitis, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, kala azar, sleeping sickness, and Chagas.  

When it comes to malnutrition, this is something that MSF has had extensive experience in helping with.  They started the use of RUF, ready-to-use food, which has had a major impact on the hunger epidemic.  Consider this: Every day, 20 million children are starving, suffering from malnutrition (MSF website).  That is a staggering number.  

Right now, MSF is working in Haiti.  They have performed many surgeries, but there are still patients waiting to have surgery, as well as patients needing post-operative care.

MSF is not only working in hospitals/makeshift operating rooms, even their inflatable hospital, but they have gone mobile as well, searching out people who need life-saving treatment or whose conditions could quickly go downhill.  Many of the Haitian volunteers working in MSF, such as Dr. Philippe Brouard, a surgeon, and Charles Joseph, a social worker, have lost family and friends, but still they continue to work to save lives and give help where it is needed.  Click the link to see how Haitian staff are determined to help.  

You can help Doctors Without Borders/MSF.  You can volunteer, or you can donate in more ways than one.  Right now they are urgently needing OR nurses, obstetricians/gynecologists, HIV/AIDS and TB specialists, and anesthesiologists/nurse-anesthetists, as well as nurse-midwives/certified midwives.  MSF staff know that they are going into a field that involves many elements of danger, and they know that they are working in a humanitarian organization, receiving a very modest monthly salary.  You can find out more of what it takes to volunteer, as well as the benefits you would receive here.  MSF has many benefit concerts/fundraising events that you can check out, as well.  Publications also exist to help keep you up to date on what they are doing.  You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  

How can you help? How can you shine your light?


Small Burst February 3, 2010 at 7:14 AM  

This is a great organization! I know a couple of Doctors who has volunteered and it is commendable what they do. Thanks for posting. Visiting from SITS.

Anonymous February 3, 2010 at 10:14 AM  


We are on the same topic today!

Stopping in from SITS! :)

JDaniel4's Mom February 4, 2010 at 10:48 AM  

What a great organization! Stopping from SITS!

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