Spring 2012: Reports from the field

Dear Friends,

Providing our donors and supporters with clear, frank assessments of the challenges our patients face and the work that we do to assist them is a vital part of what MSF does. But there are instances in which we can’t tell the tales ourselves. Syria is one of these instances.

Though we’ve tried for months now to find ways to bring impartial medical care to Syrians caught in a brutal conflict, our operations remain very limited and our presence inside the country minimal. But we can provide a forum in which Syrians speak for themselves. In this issue of Alert, you will hear firsthand testimonies from Syrian patients and doctors who describe the injuries they sustained and the risks they took to provide care for the wounded. To discuss how the ongoing crackdown constitutes egregious violations of medical ethics, we’ve also included an essay by Dr. Greg Elder, MSF’s deputy operations director.

In Alert, and in MSF in general, we try to find the best ways to tell the story of our work. In that vein, as you may have noticed, we’ve started to make some changes to Alert. It is now in color, which we realized we could do with only a minimal increase in printing costs. The layout is evolving as well. We will also be including a Q&A in each issue organized around the theme of “How MSF Works,” a feature that will highlight specific facets of the organization and answer questions we hear frequently. In this issue, following up on a previous Q&A on the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), we take a closer look at one of MSF’s centers of innovation, Epicentre. Founded more than 20 years ago to help our field teams analyze the medical data from our clinics and hospitals, and to improve the targeting of our aid programs, Epicentre is MSF’s Paris-based epidemiological arm.

I mention all this because accountability is something we take very seriously. We want you to know why and how we adapt our programs to the evolving needs of people trapped by conflict and other crises. We want you to hear from field workers in South Sudan, as you will in this issue, and we want you to see our facilities in Afghanistan, where MSF runs the only trauma center in the northern part of the country.

Your generous support allows us to deliver lifesaving emergency care in more than 60 countries worldwide. That support is never taken for granted. We thoroughly document the ways in which donor funds are used, to assure you that they are getting where you intended them to go. For 15 years in a row, more than 85 percent of all funds raised have gone into programs and operations, not administrative costs. In 2010, it was 89.27 percent, to be exact.

We hope this issue helps you understand what our work entails, and that you share my feeling that in some ways, we are doing it together.


Sophie Delaunay
Executive Director