Development work has a different goal than humanitarian—society, infrastructure, democracy building, and so on. MSF is strictly a medical organization and as such focuses solely on medical matters and issues that prevent people from accessing the medical care they need.
● Management/staff capacity to run complex programs biggest limiting factor
MSF is an independent, non-government organization. We will frequently prepare reports, medical surveys, and personal testimonies to present to the UN and the US government as part of our advocacy strategy to “bear witness” and “speak out.” And we do coordinate our activities with the UN to make sure other government and non-government services are also being provided and in order to avoid duplication of services. But we do not take funding from either the US or the UN, we do not partner with them in our field operations, and MSF is not part of the UN “cluster system.”
● MSF occasionally partners with other organizations when there is a component or activity that another organization can fulfill that will benefit the program and its recipients.
● Even when MSF works independently, we still coordinate our activities and information with other agencies in a region to avoid duplication, and we share security information as well.
● Yes, though it’s very rare considering we have some 30,000 people in the field on any given day. The majority are in accidents or due to illness.
● MSF works hard to minimize risk of deliberate targeting by talking to all sides in a conflict, asserting and reasserting our independence and our impartiality, along with our medical ethics.
● All workers receive general security training.
● Projects follow an area-specific security plan.
● Security often hinges on transparency—telling all sides of conflict what we are doing and where, and impartiality—serving everyone in need, regardless of what ‘side’ they are on.
● All aid workers get appropriate vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis if needed, and we have contracts to evacuate members if needed.
MSF is often the only medical service provider; therefore, the reception is usually very positive. Staff also stay in continuous contact with local leaders and people of influence in a given area to make clear what MSF intends to do and why, and to address any issues that may arise that could affect the ability of a program to operate effectively.
● MSF’s specificity is medical humanitarian aid to people in the acute phase of a crisis.
● MSF considers certain diseases medical emergencies—HIV/AIDS, TB, as well as malnutrition.
● Where there are ongoing violent conflicts and forced displacement: South Sudan, DRC, CAR, Somalia (though MSF was forced to withdraw from the country in 2013), Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria—for example.
● Where nutritional crises occur during the months between harvests (generally between June and October) in areas of West Africa (the Sahel) as well as the eastern Horn of Africa, i.e. Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia.