Closing a programme

The closure of a programme reflects MSF’s specific mandate to provide medical humanitarian assistance.

The decision to withdraw is based on our experience and analysis of the situation, and the imperative to make choices so that we can devote our assistance to the most vital needs. It is also crucial that a local or national health system does not become permanently dependent on MSF.

Where possible, we carry out a comprehensive handover process with national staff, local organisations and authorities to avoid the interruption of activities.

Should a conflict resume or if a situation again reaches crisis point, with no guarantee that medical and humanitarian needs will be adequately addressed, we will be ready to return.

Stable or unsafe situations

When a violent situation has stabilised sufficiently, and access to health services improves, MSF will close its programme.

We may withdraw our teams if a conflict situation deteriorates to the point of unacceptable risk for our staff.

In exceptional situations, we may also leave if our aid is being diverted away from the most vulnerable civilians.

Capacity and responsibility

When local or national authorities and organisations have the capacity and motivation to restore and develop a medical system that meets the urgent needs of the population, MSF will withdraw.

Likewise, if other organisations are providing medical support, we will assess whether our presence risks a duplication of effort. 

A decrease in acute needs

MSF will close a programme when a medical emergency ends: when an epidemic is over, or when people have access to health services. We will hand over when the most urgent needs of people struck by a natural disaster have been met, and attention must turn from relief operations to longer-term development activities.