During my field assignments and my tenure as the president of the Board of Directors, I’ve had the distinct privilege of meeting many MSF field workers in projects around the world.
That’s given me the chance to marvel at their dedication, their professionalism, and their commitment to this work that we do, often under duress, often in extreme circumstances.
I’ve also had the equally profound honor of meeting scores and scores of patients—people living in places afflicted by crisis and chronic shortages of medical options, doing all they can to survive and tend to their families at the same time. A few that come to mind are the 20 Syrian women and children I met in Lebanon in the winter of 2012, after they’d walked over the mountains with only the clothes on their backs, fleeing the worsening war in their own country. Or the young pregnant Afghan woman who presented to MSF’s maternity center in Khost with eclampsia and soon fell unconscious, but whose decision to come to the hospital saved both her life and her child’s, because the care she needed—a Caesarean section and rigorous follow-up treatment—was not available anywhere else.
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. I won’t say that all of them make it. Some don’t reach our projects in time or we can’t reach them in time. But those we meet, we do not forget, and we’re devoting this issue to them, because they are, after all, the reason we exist and the reason we run programs in some 70 countries across the globe. (And for more news about our biggest current interventions—in Yemen, or the Mediterranean Sea, or Nepal, or Central African Republic, or elsewhere—please visit doctorswithoutborders.org.)
In addition, I want to share the wonderful news that Jason Cone, the director of communications for MSF-USA, was recently named executive director of the US office. Jason has been with the organization for more than 10 years and has displayed his own uncommon commitment to the work we do, developing, during that time, a vision for the coming years that will guide us as we move forward into an era where our services will be as necessary as ever, and our engagement with the American people and its government continues to evolve. I must at the same time say thank you a hundred times over to the departing executive director, Sophie Delaunay, who held the position for more than six years and steered us through some very stormy days bookended by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the Ebola epidemic in West Africa—and punctuated by a dramatic uptick in fundraising support and sustained advocacy efforts on numerous political and policy fronts. Sophie, we wish you well and know you will remain part of MSF as an association member, but I’d like to say that your steadfast leadership and wisdom served us and so many others well over the years, and we remain ever grateful.
Please welcome me in thanking Sophie, welcoming Jason, and meeting some of the patients we are all here to assist.
President, MSF-USA Board of Directors