Tell us about Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders is a humanitarian medical aid association created in 1971 by a group of doctors and journalists. We now operate in 34 countries with a staff of 8,759 employees (including 7,562 national employees in each country where we work), delivering medical assistance to anyone whose health and safety are under threat.
Emergency situations may be caused by natural disasters or epidemics. But 57% of our operations are as a result of armed conflict. For this reason, in 1999, Doctors Without Borders received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work.
We also take action in cases of healthcare exclusion.
To carry out our missions, we have developed two complementary sets of expertise: medical, of course, with our highly qualified and committed staff, as well as logistics.
We continually look to improve humanitarian medical aid by placing a strong emphasis on research and innovation, through our R&D programs. For example, we are currently developing a mobile medical analysis lab, which will help us in the field as we fight resistance to antibiotics, which is considered a major health challenge by the WHO.
Doctors Without Borders is also a fully independent association, with no political, military or religious affiliation. Our independence is essential, as it allows us to take impartial action in every situation. This independence is made possible by our funding: 96% of our resources come from private donations.
World Humanitarian Day will take place on August 19. What does the event represent for you?
We have not planned any specific actions: humanitarian aid is something we carry out every day of the year.
But at the same time, an event like this serves to emphasize the scale of resources needed to support humanitarian aid and the work of NGOs, while also raising public awareness about silent crises that the media have forgotten, such as the current situation in northern Nigeria.
There, we discovered an alarming situation last June in the state of Borno*. The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that 250,000 children suffer from severe malnutrition, while 50,000 will die if they do not receive treatment. And yet, this crisis has gone on completely unknown to the public, due to a lack of adequate media attention.
What major commitments have you pursued in 2015 and 2016?
2015 saw a number of crisis situations:
- Earthquake in Nepal
- Refugee crisis in Europe – we are present across the entire refugee route, including Greece, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary and France
- Populations displaced by conflict, especially in Syria and Yemen
- Our long-term actions taken on site in South Sudan, Liberia, etc.
In 2016, we increased our actions in South Sudan and Nigeria with regards to the health crisis I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, 2016 also saw a drop in our resources, tied to declining media coverage of these crises.
You receive support from the BNP Paribas Rescue & Recover Fund. What does that represent for you?
The partnership with the Rescue & Recover Fund provides us with invaluable financial support. But, for us, it also delivers additional value for the following reasons:
- Ability to raise funds rapidly to respond to emergencies
- An important show of confidence for us, and we have also forged quality relationships with the fund managers
- It was created at the request of BNP Paribas employees: a positive and encouraging sign that illustrates their will to take action
- Matching contribution from BNP Paribas provides a powerful incentive and sends a strong message from the company
We have a lot of admiration for the standout organization of the Rescue & Recover Fund as well as its employees who work alongside us.
Funds raised by the Rescue & Recover Fund are distributed to its three partner associations, based on their activity in the field. Do you stay in contact or coordinate actions with the other associations?
We often take action on the same crises, which means we have to coordinate our efforts. But each association works in its own way and offers its own skills. Our expertise is complementary!
each association works in its own way and offers its own skills. Our expertise is complementary
(c) Juan Carlos Tomasi // (c) Yann Libessart
What are you hoping to accomplish at this year’s World Humanitarian Day and throughout the rest of 2016?
Of course we would love to see the situation improve in every area where we operate, notably in Nigeria and for refugees in Europe. But we need a strong and continuous commitment from civil society, even after media coverage dies down.
Individuals can make regular donations. It is these regular donations that give us the resources we need to spring into action immediately after an emergency begins and to make sure our efforts can continue.
Companies, for their part, can form multi-year partnerships with us, combining financial donations and expertise sharing: partnerships like these are extremely meaningful and a win-win for everyone!
Header Picture : Ana Lemos - MSF