MSF staffing: 32 (including 20 unpaid volunteers)
SOCIAL AND LEGAL AID FOR FOREIGNERS
Several laws were drafted in 1997 that directly concern the people for whom MSF is working. They deal with the rights of foreigners to enter and reside in France, access to health care and the problem of exclusion.
An MSF medical centre in Paris continues to offer free consultations to intravenous drug addicts. MSF promotes the distribution of its free kits (sterile material, disposable syringes and condoms) as the only way to lower infection risks.
Team members assist addicts in their approaches to administrative and medical authorities and there is regular contact with hospitals in order to improve access for them and ensure equal treatment. Mobile teams provide information, and distribute kits and condoms among the most marginalised addicts living and often prostituting themselves) in the streets.
The MSF medical centre in Marseilles provides consultations for many denied access to health care (2,100 in 1997). The social and legal support also available has already resulted in residence and work permits and health care access being granted to around 40 foreigners previously without official papers, many seriously ill.
MSF organised a petition in Northern France that successfully reinstated access to health care for 160,000. As this right has not yet been fully implemented, the MSF medical centre in Lille continues to offer consultations.
The Paris team also offers information and support to foreigners in regard to their social and legal rights and intervenes with the authorities when these are not respected and discrimination is experienced.