What You Need to Know About Doctors Without Borders

November 12, 2012

What You Need to Know About Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders is the English name for the Nobel Peace Price-winning medical charity group, Medicins Sans Frontiers. The group strives to send medical personnel and supplies to any area of the world needing their services, such as nations that suffered a natural disaster, sudden epidemics or devastating warfare. In order to stay impartial to best serve peoples all over the world, Doctors Without Borders receives over 90% of their funds from private donations instead of government hand outs. If the group had to take money from a government, then it may be pressured by that government not to assist countries or ethnic groups considered that government’s enemies. Brief History Medicins Sand Frontiers / Doctors Without Borders originated in France with a determined group of young journalists and doctors in the year 1971. Journalists reporting on natural and man-made disasters would be besieged by natives pleading for medical care. When journalists would try to find doctors, they discovered either that there weren’t any or that the local government had control of all of the doctors and would not let any out of a certain area. Some French journalists had had enough and decided to see if there were doctors and medical personnel who could assemble a team and travel the world where there was the most need. The doctors had to remain politically and religiously neutral so as not to incur the wrath of any local or national government. Their only mission is to go in and heal. In 1999, their efforts were rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. Currently, Doctors Without Borders has offices in 19 countries and over 27,000 volunteers. In just the year 2010, Doctors Without Borders went on 435 missions around the world including earthquake ravaged Haiti and war-torn Congo.

Other Programs

Doctors Without Borders doesn’t just go out in the field, but helps fund medical research through a branch called Epicentre. Beginning in 1987, Epicentre doctors have conducted numerous surveys on how many people in a specific area died from what; surveys local diets during famines and published numerous articles in such prestigious medical journals as The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine. Epicentre now works with the World Health Organization to help provide disaster plans and plans on how to deal with possible epidemics.

In 1999, Doctors Without Borders started the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest time and money into developing medicines for diseases that affect only a small part of the population. Pharmaceutical companies concentrate their efforts on common diseases and ailments because these are the most profitable. The most successful effort has been a malaria medicine released in March of 2007. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative also came out with new medicines for sleeping sickness.

In conjunction with Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative is another of this world wide charity’s branch, the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. Many people suffer needlessly because they cannot afford medication. The Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines is trying to change that.

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