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Doctors Without Borders – Who Are They?

The world can be a difficult place to live in, especially with several environmental, civil, and political turmoil that most countries are suffering from. If you are living in these types of locations, then you should know how difficult it could be to get much-needed aid.

That is the main goal of organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders is one of the largest non-profit groups that aim to alleviate human suffering, especially in troubled areas around the world.

This article aims to discuss what Doctors Without Borders is all about, and how they help make lives better one day and one step at a time.

What is Doctors Without Borders?

Doctors Without Borders is also known by the name Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF. It was founded in Paris, Francis in 1971 by a group of journalists and doctors that were witnesses to civil war and national calamities, as well as the health concerns of the people living in those areas.

Merging the Emergency Medical and Surgical Intervention Group and the French Medical Relief together, Doctors Without Borders started their first mission in Nicaragua in 1972, where an earthquake killed tens of thousands of people. This was followed by a medical relief mission in the Honduras where it was struck by Hurricane Fifi.

During the 1980s, the organization added further members, making it an international group. The first countries that joined MSF included:

  • Belgium
  • Switzerland
  • Holland
  • Spain
  • Luxembourg

In 1994, Australia joined the organization, forming Doctors Without Borders – Australia. In total, Doctors Without Borders operates in over 70 countries and employs over 36,000 workers and volunteers. Their personnel mostly comprise of doctors, nurses, and other health workers. Other specialists such as engineers and administrative personnel also work within the group.

What Does Doctors Without Borders Do?

The mission of Doctors Without Borders is to alleviate pain and suffering of people who are living in high-risk areas, such as those with ongoing epidemics, civil unrest or war, or those hit with natural calamities. While the missions that Doctors Without Borders are wide in scope, they can be broken down into the three major tasks as indicated below.

Provide Medical Assistance

As the majority of MSF’s workforce are doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other members of the medical industry, it would seem obvious that Doctors Without Borders’ main goals is to provide medical assistance to those who are in need.

Vaccinations, emergency surgeries, and treating the sick are done in the field. Some missions also require them to put up health centres and clinics to better accommodate patients. Typically, victims of conflict as well as those infected by an outbreak are treated, although they also conduct medical missions for other purposes such as for treatment of mental problems and health education, among others.

Improve Quality of Health

Aside from treatment, Doctors Without Borders also work towards the prevention of disease and improving the quality of health in the locale. The group helps provide access to clean water, provide resources for proper sanitation and hygiene, and implement programs to fight malnutrition.

In order to do these projects, Doctors Without Borders employs a team of specialists and experts such as engineers and logistics teams to make their projects possible. This requires them to create plans to circumvent several challenges while still trying to attain their goals. This, in turn, requires numerous resources and skilled personnel.

Witness and Speak Out

Doctors Without Borders has the responsibility to put front and centre any issues that they see during their missions. These would include neglect by the local health care system, the inadequacies or faults of the government, or any other factors that hinder or impede their progress.

As such, Doctors Without Borders are often at the forefront of media attention as they aim to spread awareness about the condition of society so that more aid and support can be provided not only by the local government but internationally as well.

What are the Challenges Faced by Doctors Without Borders?

The major challenge that Doctors Without Borders face is the sourcing of funds. Almost 90% of their funds come from public donations, while others come from government aid. Most of their funds are used for medical equipment and logistics, while workers do not get salaries but get small per diems for their personal use.

Another challenge that Doctors Without Borders face is the lack of volunteers. As personnel become more skilled, they are much more likely to leave in order to find a full-time job with a more competitive salary package. As such, many workers Doctors Without Borders have typically short careers within the group.

Lastly, those working in Doctors Without Borders do experience some dangers as well. As they are put in areas of conflict and disease, they are exposed to the same dangers and perils as the people that they are trying to help.

As such, there have been numerous cases of workers getting shot at or infected with the disease. Many have also died during these missions, especially when working in locations where there is armed conflict.

How Can I Help Doctors Without Borders?

Those who would like to help Doctors Without Borders fulfil their mission can do so in one of two ways, namely volunteering and donating.

Those who would like to volunteer for work at Doctors Without Borders will have to go through a screening process. They must also commit towards a set number of weeks or months that they can work with the team.

Different personnel are required by Doctors Without Borders. They include doctors of different disciplines, nurses, and other health professionals. Other workers such as those familiar with finance and human resources are also required.

Another way that you can help Doctors Without Borders is through donations. Cash is the most common type of donation, also stocks can be accepted. However, donations in kind are not accepted due to organization policy.

You can also donate by setting up monthly donation plans or hold fundraisers to help them raise money for their cause.

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