Public health is already being hit hard. How can a medical humanitarian organization provide care and support amid political turmoil?

February 2019: Patients wait for a consultation from MSF’s mobile medical unit in Naga, Myanmar. Photo: MSF/Scott Hamilton

Francesca Quinto is Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières’ head of mission in Myanmar. This op-ed was original published in the Jakarta Post on March 23rd, 2021.

The sweet fragrance of jasmine flowers strung across the rearview mirror of a taxi I was in offered the only sense of familiarity in a country that had changed dramatically overnight. That morning, February 1st, I had woken up stunned, like millions in Myanmar, to the news that the military had declared a state of emergency and seized power from the country’s civilian leadership.

As we drove through the eerily quiet streets of Yangon…

The awful reality is that more women and girls could die due to disruption of sexual and reproductive health services than to the coronavirus itself

February 2019: In Choloma, in the north of Honduras, an MSF team works at a clinic that offers family planning services, prenatal and postnatal consultations, psychosocial support to victims of violence, as well as assisting deliveries. Health promotion teams visit different sites to raise awareness of the services available and to provide information about sexual and reproductive health for adolescents. Photo: Christina Simons/MSF

By Avril Benoît, executive director for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières in the United States (MSF-USA)

As world leaders attempt to tackle an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises, many of them deepened beyond imagination by the coronavirus pandemic, the United States is throwing its weight around on the global stage to obstruct lifesaving aid efforts.

The Trump Administration appears intent on blocking international efforts and resolutions containing these critically important words: sexual and reproductive health.

Sexual and reproductive health care is essential health care. Yet it is often neglected, especially during emergencies. …

MSF pediatric surgeon Neema Kaseje holds a 5-month-old baby in recovery after receiving surgery at Bardnesville Junction Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. The child had suffered from intussusception — a painful and dangerous intestinal obstruction. Photo courtesy of Neema Kaseje

Dr. Neema Kaseje had just successfully performed a complex surgery on a very sick 5-month-old baby when she found out that the baby’s mother was a nurse in another ward of the hospital. This particular operation, to treat intussusception — a painful and dangerous intestinal obstruction — meant a lot to Kaseje.

It demonstrated that after two years, the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) pediatric surgery project in Monrovia, Liberia — the only one of its kind in the country — had gained the confidence of the community.

“This was a testament to the trust in the program we…

ER Doctor Craig Spencer is on the front lines in New York City to help slow down the spread of coronavirus

Dr. Craig Spencer is a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) board member and aid worker. He’s currently the Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. In 2014, he was on the front lines of the West Africa Ebola outbreak in Guinea fighting to save lives.

He’s also an Ebola survivor. And now he’s working in the emergency room on the front lines of the coronovirus pandemic in New York — at the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.

On Tuesday morning, he got home after another long shift in a New…

On the anniversary of the Global Gag Rule, we’re launching a free, open-source, evidence-based online course on medication abortion. An abortion with pills is simple, safe, and effective — even for those in the hardest to reach places.

Dr. Manisha Kumar MD, MPH is a family medicine doctor and Head of the Task Force on Safe Abortion Care at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Talking about abortion is not a crime.

These days, however, health care providers and humanitarian workers who receive US funding overseas risk being shut down if they do just that.

The Global Gag Rule —…

Saving lives is not a crime — and speaking out is not political

Tell the world what’s happening to us.

The request often comes after someone in crisis has poured out their story and opened up about how they and their children are suffering — once they have realized that Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) can, and will, tell the world. As humanitarians, we made this choice long ago.

Speaking out is now as ingrained in our work as saving lives and alleviating suffering through medical action.

Twenty years ago, on December 10, 1999, MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering humanitarian work. Dr. James Orbinski, then president of…

An Iraqi refugee rebuilds his life in Texas after surviving a suicide bombing

Illustrations by Matthew Morales

Qusay Hussein arrived at John F. Kennedy airport in New York City six years ago with no idea how to get where he was going. He had come a long way from his home in the remote desert city of Hatra, Iraq. He was traveling alone with a badge pinned to his shirt that read, “I don’t speak English.” He also could not see, blinded by a suicide bombing years earlier. A woman touched his shoulder and, speaking in Arabic, asked if he needed help. …

Despite personal tragedy, a nurse in Mozambique draws strength from treating cyclone survivors

A.* is a 26-year-old nurse working with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Mozambique. She and her children survived Cyclone Idai, but her husband was killed. Despite the tragedy, she cares for patients in the most remote areas of Mozambique, in communities devastated by the effects of the cyclone. This is her story.

I was born in a little town but moved to Nhamatanda to study to become a nurse. I met my husband at a soccer match, right here on this field where we land the helicopter to run our mobile clinics. He was studying to become a…

Whether it’s advocating for safe abortion care and access to medicines, or condemning the bombing of hospitals, these women around the world are speaking out to empower others and protect patients. They will not be silent.

Meet just a few of these inspiring women we’re highlighting for Women’s History Month.

“We will not leave patients behind. And we will not be silent. Seeking or providing health care must not be a death sentence… Make no mistake: we will relentlessly denounce attacks on health care. We will speak out loudly and with force about what we witness in the field.”

On May 3, 2016, Dr. Joanne Liu, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International President, addressed the United Nations Security Council. …

Last night Trump used our data, again, to justify policies that would trap vulnerable people in places where their lives are at risk.

February 2018: Doctors Without Borders runs a clinic inside the La 72 shelter, among other locations along the Central American migration route through Mexico. Photo: Juan Carlos Tomasi

US Administration officials are sounding the alarm about a humanitarian crisis along the border with Mexico to justify building a border wall. As a medical humanitarian organization treating people in Honduras, El Salvador, and along the migration route through Mexico, we can be absolutely sure of this: a wall will do nothing to address the humanitarian crisis in Central America driving large numbers to flee north in search of safety and security.

A humanitarian crisis demands a humanitarian response.

In a surprising twist, the president, vice president, and the secretary of homeland security have recently seized on data from a…

Doctors Without Borders

Medical aid org working globally to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

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