What we do
We treat patients suffering from a wide array of illnesses and health needs. Here you will find some of the main needs we see and what we do about them.
Discover the main crises we work in, the consequences faced by affected people and challenges in delivering care.
Access to medicines
Unaffordable, unavailable, not adapted - people around the world face these challenges in accessing lifesaving medicines.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing phenomenon in contemporary medicine and has emerged as one of the pre-eminent public health concerns of the 21st century.
Attacks on medical care
Attacks against medical facilities and health workers, whether deliberate or indiscriminate, are part of generalised violence and atrocities committed against civilians in armed conflict. They deprive populations of health services, often when they need them the most.
Central American Migration
An estimated 500,000 people a year flee violence and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, heading north through Mexico to find safety. The levels of violence in the region are comparable to that of war zones MSF has worked in for decades.
Around the world, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams are working to protect the health of children.
Although easy to prevent and treat, cholera affects up to 4 million people worldwide per year, resulting in up to 140,000 deaths.
Cyclone Idai & Southern Africa flooding
A weather system that produced heavy rains flooded parts of Malawi in early March 2019, before developing into Cyclone Idai which struck Mozambique and Zimbabwe on 14-16 March 2019, causing widespread flooding and damage.
DRC Ebola outbreaks
On 1 August 2018, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared an outbreak of Ebola in the country's northeast. With the number of cases passing 3,000, it is now by far the country's largest-ever Ebola outbreak. It is also the second-biggest Ebola epidemic ever recorded, behind the West Africa outbreak of 2014-2016.
Ebola and Marburg
Ebola and Marburg haemorrhagic fevers are rare but deadly. Outbreaks can kill 25 to 90 per cent of those infected, spreading fear and panic. No cure exists and treatment is mainly symptomatic.
Epidemics and pandemics
Millions of people still die each year from infectious diseases that are preventable or can be treated.
Worldwide, an estimated 71 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus, double the number living with HIV. While hepatitis C can be cured, few people have access to treatment.
Hepatitis E is transmitted by ingesting water contaminated by an infected person’s faeces. Outbreaks are often documented in places with poor sanitation, like camps for refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). Hepatitis E commonly causes only a mild short-term illness.
Nearly 800,000 people die each year from HIV/AIDS, while nearly 2 million people become newly infected with the virus.
Two hundred million people are at risk of infection with kala azar - one of the world's most dangerous topical diseases. Only malaria is more deadly.
Kunduz hospital attack
On 3 October 2015, US airstrikes destroyed our trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 42 people. Our request for an independent investigation has so far gone unanswered.
Lake Chad Crisis
Armed conflict has forced over 2.3 million people to flee their homes across the Lake Chad Basin. Violence and multiple forced displacement have destroyed what ability people had to support themselves, with many dependent on humanitarian assistance.
Each year, malaria kills nearly half a million people. 70 per cent of all deaths are children under five years of age.
More than 224 million children around the world last year suffered from malnutrition. It is the underlying contributing factor in nearly half of the deaths of children under five years of age.
In 2018, our teams vaccinated almost 1.5 million people against measles in response to outbreaks, and conducted over 412,000 routine vaccinations. But the highly contagious viral disease remains one of the leading killers of young children.
Every year, thousands of people fleeing war, persecution and poverty at home attempt the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean. Countless lives are lost on the way.
Meningococcal meningitis is a highly contagious bacterial form of meningitis – a serious inflammation of the meninges – the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
Where we work, we may see people with a mental illness or confronting distressing situations, such as violence, loss or displacement. Mental health support can be crucial to help people cope.
Within a matter of minutes, natural disasters can affect the lives of tens of thousands of people. Hundreds or even thousands of people can be injured, homes and livelihoods destroyed. Access to clean water, healthcare services and transport can also be disrupted. The impact of each disaster varies greatly and our response must adapt to each situation.
Stimulating awareness about the urgent need for new, better treatment and tests for diseases like leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and Chagas disease is key to our work.
Independent medical humanitarian assistance
We provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. Our teams are made up of tens of thousands of health professionals, logistic and administrative staff - most of them hired locally. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of independence and impartiality. We are a non-profit, self-governed, member-based organisation.Learn more