MSF-USA's quarterly newsletter features reports direct from the field and stories that chronicle our medical and advocacy work.

 

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2014 Summer Quarterly Newsletter

Like a lot of our staff, when I tell people that I work with Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)—and that I’ve worked in field missions in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Syria, and elsewhere—they want to know more. What is it like to work “over there”? Where does the organization get its money? Do you take people who don’t have medical backgrounds? When do you open and close programs? How do you manage the security of your teams?

2014 Summer Quarterly Newsletter
August 04, 2014

 

Dear Friends, 

Like a lot of our staff, when I tell people that I work with Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)—and that I’ve worked in field missions in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Syria, and elsewhere—they want to know more. What is it like to work “over there”? Where does the organization get its money? Do you take people who don’t have medical backgrounds? When do you open and close programs? How do you manage the security of your teams?

People who have generously supported our work over the years often have similar questions. People who come to work in the US office do, too. Whether they concern our field staff, our programs, our fundraising, or some other aspect of our work, they almost always translate into some variation of the big query: How does MSF work?

Last year, we used an issue of Alert to address some of the questions we hear most often. In this issue, we’re doing it again. The reason is simple: We want you to know. We want to be transparent about our work, to be accountable for our funding and our decisions, to be informative about our general approaches to field operations and our specialized approaches to specific issues—like viral load monitoring, say, or programs in Haiti.

It’s part of speaking directly to the people who make this work possible—something I am happy to be doing now in this forum, the opening letter of Alert, in this issue and the issues to come. In truth, we as an organization spend a lot of time explaining ourselves—because we want to be transparent, as noted, and because it helps our ability to carry out our programs in the field. We need to tell people—be they government officials, would-be patients, or parties to a conflict—what we are doing and why, to convey our sense of what it means to be independent, impartial, and neutral. We need them to understand that we are trying to provide emergency medical care where it’s needed most, irrespective of religion, nationality, ethnic group, or other affiliation.

In most places, explaining ourselves and our work helps us maintain the safety of our programs and personnel. Tragically, recent incidents where hospitals were attacked and looted in South Sudan and Central African Republic—where three staff members were also killed—remind us that there is still a great deal of risk involved in this work, and that the sanctity of our medical programs is not always guaranteed.

We need to do everything we can to avoid repeat occurrences, but the needs are so great in so many places that we cannot retreat. So we will continue to talk about How MSF Works, in this and in other places, because it remains one of the best ways we know of to help our teams provide lifesaving assistance to those who need it most.

Sincerely yours,

DEANE MARCHBEIN, MD

President, MSF-USA Board of Directors

What's Happening in Haiti Now?
July 29, 2014

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, MSF launched its largest-ever emergency intervention, hiring thousands of new staff, treating more than 350,000 patients in the 10 months that followed, then treating hundreds of thousands more during a massive cholera outbreak.

How is Refrigeration Related to Trying to Vaccinate More Children?
July 29, 2014

Kate Elder is MSF Access Campaign Vaccines Policy Advisor.

Do You Take Money from the Gates Foundation?
July 29, 2014

No. The Gates Foundation and MSF share many common objectives in working to address urgent global health needs in developing countries, and to ensure that appropriate vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and other lifesaving interventions are developed and delivered to populations in need.

How Does MSF Ensure Money Gets Where It's Meant to Go?
July 29, 2014

Marion Deudon is MSF-USA’s Desk Finance and Administration Controller.

What Is MSF-USA's Financial Contribution to the Rest of the Organization?
July 29, 2014

Mary Vonckx is MSF-USA’s Grants Officer.

What Is It Like When You're Forced to Leave a Program?
July 29, 2014

Tim Harrison, a registered nurse from Massachusetts, has worked with MSF in South Sudan on several occasions, most recently in Malakal, from which the team had to be evacuated due to extreme violence in the area.

What Is Viral Load Monitoring and Why Is It Important to HIV/AIDS Care?
July 28, 2014

Viral load monitoring means tracking the level of the virus in a patient’s blood over time. It helps providers see if treatment is working or not and it’s been a standard part of HIV care in developed countries for many years. Until recently, though, it has been deemed too difficult to do in places where MSF works.

Does MSF Publish Medical Data from Its Programs?
July 28, 2014

MSF published 150 articles in medical journals in 2013 on topics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and neglected tropical diseases. Drawing on MSF’s field experience, these papers “add to the global evidence base that advances best practice,” says Dr. Patricia Kahn, MSF-USA’s medical editor. They help MSF improve its own work and can also contribute to national and international guidelines for diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases.

How Does MSF Interact with the US Government and Other Regional Organizations?
July 28, 2014

MSF engages bilaterally with many US government offices in both the executive and legislative branches. We are in contact mostly with the State Department, the White House, and the Department of Defense on the executive side. Within the State Department there are different offices that are in charge of funding humanitarian assistance on behalf of the US government, like USAID.

Who is on MSF-USA's Board of Directors, and What Do They Do?
July 28, 2014

Deane Marchbein, MD, an anesthetist from Massachusetts, is the President of MSF-USA’s Board of Directors and has completed field missions in DRC, Syria, and, most recently, Afghanistan.

How Do You Manage Security in Places Where You Can't Count on Respect for Medical Facilities?
July 28, 2014

Jordan Wiley spent the past year working as an emergency team field coordinator in Syria and CAR.

Field Journal: Responding to Ebola
July 28, 2014

Caitlin Rose, a nurse from Washington, DC, recently returned from Macenta, Guinea, where MSF was working with Guinea’s Ministry of Health to contain an outbreak of Ebola. Her duties included contact tracing—working to follow the path of the highly contagious disease as it moved through the community.

A Conversation with Sophie Delaunay, Executive Director, MSF-USA
July 28, 2014

MSF-USA Executive Director Sophie Delaunay answers common questions.

What Does MSF Look for in Its Field Workers?
July 28, 2014

A conversation with Melissa Bieri, an MSF-USA recruiter, who has completed field assignments as a logistician in South Sudan and Malawi.