Aden besieged
How we work

Discover how we deliver medical humanitarian assistance

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical care to millions of people caught in crises around the world.

Our teams conduct independent evaluations to determine medical needs and assess what assistance to provide. Different criteria determine what we do, such as the magnitude of a given crisis, the levels of illness and mortality in the population, the severity of exclusion from healthcare, and the added value we can bring to the affected people. We regularly question the form, relevance and impact of our presence, taking into account what other organisations do.
 

How we do it

Everywhere we work, the circumstances are unique. Nonetheless, our programmes generally follow a common set of practices designed to make sure our resources and expertise are used to maximum effect.
3 Questions: How MSF Brought Down the Price of the Pneumonia Vaccine, EN
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How MSF brought down the price of the pneumonia vaccine

Temoignage, bearing witness and speaking out

Our proximity to people in distress implies a duty to raise awareness to improve their situation.

Our teams may witness violence, atrocities, and neglect in the course of their work. Témoignage – translated as bearing witness – is the act of raising awareness, either in private or in public, about what we see happening in front of us.

At times, MSF may speak out publicly to bring a forgotten crisis into view, or to denounce abuses, or challenge the diversion of assistance, or to call out policies that restrict access to medical care or essential medicines.

In this spirit, we launched the MSF Access Campaign in 1999 to push for access to essential medicines, diagnostic tests and vaccines for patients in our projects and beyond. We funded this initiative with the prize money from the Nobel Peace Prize, which MSF was awarded in 1999

Read more about MSF's Access Campaign
Logistics –The cornerstone of our operations
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Logistics – The cornerstone of our operations

How we work

Logistics: the cornerstone of our operations

Thousands of logisticians on the field make sure that everything runs smoothly. From maintaining the cold chain during vaccination campaigns, to servicing vehicles; from organising the provision of water and sanitation in a camp to setting up a field hospital - logistics is what makes our work possible.

Our supply centres in France, Belgium and the Netherlands (plus their regional hubs) dispatch pre-packaged kits, supplies and medicines needed for treating patients and running programmes. They guarantee the safety of medical and non-medical supplies, and deliver what our teams need, wherever needed and when they need it.

MSF sponsors or takes part in numerous research projects in the field. Results from several projects have had substantial impact on global health policy and benefited people served by MSF and beyond. As a result, research has become increasingly integral to our activities.

We pay special attention to the ethical issues arising from the research in which we engage. This led to the the creation of an independent ethics review board in 2002 that evaluates all research proposals involving MSF.

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Clinical trial of a new vaccine against Rotavirus in Maradi / Niger

Epicentre

epicentre.msf.org

Epicentre is an affiliate organisation we set up in 1986 to provide epidemiological expertise to our field projects. Namely: investigating critical situations in the field, in particular population displacements and epidemics; carrying out research on behalf of MSF in the areas where we operate; and training medical personnel in epidemiological techniques.

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Learn more about how we work

Violence in CAR. Bangui

Reflection centres

Critical reviews and reflection centres

With more than 40 years of field experience as an emergency and humanitarian aid organisation, and as part of our need to reflect critically on our actions and improve our ways of working, several reflection centres have been set up within MSF.

Their role is mainly to reflect and challenge the organisation on past humanitarian and medical actions, draw lessons-learned and ways forward for future operations, support advocacy efforts while also making sure to inspire debate inside MSF and beyond.

The centres conduct direct studies and analysis of MSF actions but also don't shy away from pointing out other gaps in the humanitarian system at large. Themes explored may include: migration, refugees, aid access and health policies.

Discover the centres