What is MSF?
What we do
MSF provides medical care to people who are victims of conflict, natural disasters or oppression. We perform life-saving surgery and basic primary health care. We run emergency feeding programs during nutritional crises. We tackle neglected diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and kala azar; and we organise mass vaccination programs to prevent epidemics spreading. We are also involved in health projects that train local medical staff and put in place safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
Want to know more about what we do? This video from MSF's hospital in South Sudan shows the team dealing with the outbreak of a fatal disease.
Independent and Impartial
MSF’s work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. Because we wish to remain independent we limit the amount of funding we accept from governments. More than 80% of our budget internationally comes from private donations.
This funding structure means that our teams on the ground can be free to define priorities on medical needs alone not on political, economic, religious or social agendas. Thanks to our independence and impartiality, we are able to provide health care to people who otherwise would not receive it.
In carrying out our work, MSF teams often witness great suffering and humanitarian crises which very often do not feature in broader international media or public awareness. We are committed to speaking out about these international crises in an effort to alert the public to the plight of the people we help.
How we began
MSF was founded in 1971 by a group of French doctors who had previously worked with civilians suffering from famine who were caught up in the Biafra conflict (the civil war of Nigeria 1967-1970). The doctors, and some like-minded journalists, were frustrated by the bureaucracy they encountered and degree of government interference in humanitarian aid. They aimed to establish an independent organisation that would focus on emergency medicine, speak out about the causes of human suffering and cut through red tape to deliver aid fast and effectively. And so MSF was born and, with it, a new vision for humanitarian response to crises and a new voice to speak out on behalf of the people in need of our assistance.
Where we work
Médecins Sans Frontières teams are currently in 64 countries, working with more than 22,000 locally recruited national staff in conditions that are always challenging. Wherever our teams are working their goal is the same: to provide essential medical humanitarian aid to those who need it most, regardless of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.