The International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) leads the International Board and the International General Assembly, and represents MSF International externally.
Dr Unni Karunakara was elected International President in June 2010. He has been involved with MSF since 1995, when he set up a tuberculosis control programme in Ethiopia. He went on to work as a medical coordinator for MSF programmes in Azerbaijan, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr Karunakara has also worked in MSF’s public health department in Amsterdam, moving on to become medical director of MSF’s Access Campaign. In 2007, he was part of the medical emergency response team that treated victims of cyclone Sidr in Mathbaria, Bangladesh.
Outside of MSF, Dr Karunakara has held various academic and research fellowships at universities in Africa and Europe. His research focused on the demography of forced migration and the delivery of healthcare to neglected populations affected by conflict, disasters and epidemics. Before becoming MSF’s International President, Dr Karunakara was the Deputy Director of Health of the Earth Institute, Millennium Villages Project, at Columbia University in New York, and Assistant Clinical Professor at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.
Dr Karunakara holds an MB, BS from Mangalore University in India, an MPH from Yale University and a doctorate in public health from Johns Hopkins University in the United States.