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

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Alert Spring 2016 | Vol. 17 No. 1

March 16, 2016

In theory, the headlines bring you the "biggest" and "most important" international stories of the day. One moment, it might be Syria. The next, it could be Afghanistan. Or Ebola. Maybe Yemen, or the latest natural disaster to strike a country. Every now and then—though not that often, if we’re being honest—it might be Central African Republic or South Sudan. Usually, they have their moment and then it’s on to the next place. That’s understandable, to an extent. It’s hard to keep up with everything, and some places do exert a greater hold on our collective attention. But then we miss so much. And we forget that for so many people, the most important story is what’s happening to them wherever they are.

I saw that on my recent field assignment in Burundi, where I joined MSF teams providing emergency medical care amidst severe spasms of political violence. It didn’t matter that there were very few cameras in the country. There was no let up. It was life and death. And everybody on the ground knew it. Some would even ask, "where is everyone else?"

Questions like that are hard to answer, because I and all of us at MSF know there is so much happening on any given day that deserves attention—that needs attention. What we can do, though, is use platforms like Alert to flag some places that have faded from the headlines or rarely feature in them. Places like the Lake Chad region at the junction of Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad, which has been wracked by deadly violence and recurring outbreaks of disease for years, largely hidden from public view. Places like Papua New Guinea, Tanzania (where Burundian refugees are seeking sanctuary), Pakistan, Haiti, and Colombia as well. Writing about them probably doesn’t mean they’ll be on the cover of your local newspaper tomorrow, but we can at least describe what’s happening on the ground and what we’re doing in response.

We also want to do this because we want to be transparent about how we utilize the funds with which donors entrust us. Talking only about “frontline” countries might help raise more money in an absolute sense, but it wouldn’t be an accurate depiction of the scope and nature of our work. So we not only want to talk about “the other places.” We need to talk about them. We need to tell you about them. Because you’re helping us do this work, and we want to be as accountable to you as we are grateful.

You can still read about all our work, in all countries, on doctorswithoutborders.org, and get regular updates through our Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, and Twitter accounts. But I do hope you enjoy this tour of countries you may not have read much about of late. These projects—and the people they endeavor to assist—are very important to us, as they should be and as they will always be. No matter what the headlines say.

Sincerely Yours,

Deane Marchbein, MD

President, MSF-USA Board of Directors

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Alert Fall 2015 | Vol. 16 No. 3

September 01, 2015

MSF’s Access Campaign was founded to prod others to develop or provide these essential medical tools and to make sure they work in remote locations with few resources. The work the Access Campaign does is directly tied to our field experience and has profound consequences for the people with whom we work. It brings much-needed attention to pricing, policies, the research and development system, and other crucial elements of the process by which medicines and medical tools make it to the field—or don’t, as the case may be. And that’s what this issue of Alert is about, the cost of medicine, and the processes that drive the development of some medicines over others

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Alert Summer 2015 | Vol. 16 No. 2

June 01, 2015

Our staff sees incredible courage and determination from patients on an almost daily basis, and in this issue of Alert, we want to share images of some of those patients, along with their stories, so you can really see the people we try to assist.

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Alert Spring 2015 | Vol. 16 No. 1

April 01, 2015

In this issue of Alert, we want to highlight a new campaign, “Because Tomorrow Needs Her,” which is designed to focus attention on women’s health.

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Alert Fall 2014 | Vol. 15 No. 3

September 30, 2014

This issue of the Alert focuses primarily on a particularly challenging context: Syria, where a brutal conflict is now in its fourth year, and where what had been a middle income country with a well-developed medical infrastructure had been reduced to a shell of a state where the health system cannot function and millions have little access to care. Those with treatable chronic diseases cannot find medicine. Children are not getting vaccinated. Family after family—with innumerable trained health workers among them—have fled their homes to seek refuge with relatives or in neighboring countries where their presence places an enormous strain on avail­able resources.

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Alert Summer 2014 | Vol. 15 No. 2

August 04, 2014

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?

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Alert Winter 2014 | Vol. 15 No. 1

March 01, 2014

This is a crucial year for Afghanistan. A presidential election is scheduled for April, and it seems certain that there will be a significant withdrawal of US troops sometime after that. A great many questions are floating around about the political situation, the security situation, human rights, and more.

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Alert Fall 2013 | Vol. 14 No. 4

September 30, 2013

In this issue we discuss the importance of vaccination for children under five to prevent debilitating and potentially fatal diseases. We also visit South Africa, where one young woman's story illustrates the critical need for access to medicines, and two MSF field workers in war-torn Syria recount their experiences.

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