Bowtie and Scarf Monday

Tie One On for the Cause

This Week's Cause: Doctors Without Borders

Every year, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in some 70 countries around the world. MSF provides assistance when catastrophic events—such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, or natural disasters—overwhelm local health systems.

On any given day, more than 30,000 doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators, and other qualified professionals working with MSF can be found providing medical care around the world.

In one year, MSF medical teams carried out more than 8.3 million outpatient consultations; delivered more than 185,000 babies; treated more than 1.6 million people for malaria; treated nearly 350,000 severely and moderately malnourished children; provided some 284,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with antiretroviral therapy; conducted more than 78,000 surgeries, and vaccinated 690,000 against measles and 496,000 against meningitis.

Contributions can be made in the office of the Vice President for Student Services (110).

Types of Projects

Armed Conflict

In numerous countries, MSF is providing medical care to people caught in war zones. Some may have been injured by gunfire, knife or machete wounds, bombings, beatings, or sexual violence. Others are cut off from medical care or denied the ability to seek the treatment they need. This could be a pregnant woman who cannot reach help to deliver her baby, or someone with a chronic condition who has no way to resupply his medicines. Conflict’s consequences are manifold, and MSF has historically attempted to respond with speed, focus, and flexibility in order to deliver the necessary care to those most in need.


MSF has a long history of responding to epidemic outbreaks of cholera, meningitis, measles, malaria, and other infectious diseases that spread rapidly and can be fatal if not treated.


An estimated 195 million children worldwide suffer from the effects of malnutrition, with 90 percent of them living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In fact, malnutrition contributes to at least one-third of the eight million annual deaths of children under five years of age.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can overwhelm a local or national health structure in a matter of minutes. There are times when the aftermath of monumental disasters requires more of a development and reconstruction focus than a medical one. This was the case after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2005, when other organizations and government agencies had the necessary capacities to address the most pressing needs and there actually was not much for MSF to do.

Exclusion from Health Care

In many parts of the world, certain groups—refugees, internally displaced people, migrants, minorities, the unemployed, prisoners, people with HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis, drug users, sex workers, street children, and others—are marginalized and prevented from accessing adequate health care simply because of who they are. They may fear stigma and be reluctant to seek help, or their health care system may deliberately neglect or exclude them.

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