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Main article: "Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines

The Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines was initiated in 1999 to increase access to "essential medicines in developing countries. "Essential medicines" are those drugs that are needed in sufficient supply to treat a disease common to a population.[112] However, most diseases common to populations in developing countries are no longer common to populations in developed countries; therefore, "pharmaceutical companies find that producing these drugs is no longer profitable and may raise the price per treatment, decrease development of the drug (and new treatments) or even stop production of the drug. MSF often lacks effective drugs during field missions, and started the campaign to put pressure on governments and pharmaceutical companies to increase funding for essential medicines.

In recent years, the organization has tried to use its influence to urge the drug maker "Novartis to drop its case against India’s patent law that prevents Novartis from patenting its drugs in "India. A few years earlier, Novartis also sued "South Africa to prevent it from importing cheaper "AIDS drugs. Dr. Tido von Schoen-Angerer, director of DWB's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, says, "Just like five years ago, Novartis, with its legal actions, is trying to stand in the way of people's right to access the medicines they need."[113]

On 1 April 2013, it was announced that the Indian court invalidated Novartis's patent on Gleevec. This decision makes the drug available via generics on the Indian market at a considerably lower price.[114]

Dangers faced by volunteers[edit]

Aside from injuries and death associated with stray bullets, mines and epidemic disease, MSF volunteers are sometimes attacked or kidnapped for political reasons. In some countries afflicted by civil war, humanitarian-aid organizations are viewed as helping the enemy. If an aid mission is perceived to be exclusively set up for victims on one side of the conflict, it may come under attack for that reason. However, the "War on Terrorism has generated attitudes among some groups in US-occupied countries that non-governmental aid organizations such as MSF are allied with or even work for the "Coalition forces. Since the United States has labelled its operations "humanitarian actions," independent aid organizations have been forced to defend their positions, or even evacuate their teams.[115] Insecurity in cities in Afghanistan and Iraq rose significantly following United States operations, and MSF has declared that providing aid in these countries was too dangerous.[116] The organization was forced to evacuate its teams from Afghanistan on 28 July 2004,[117] after five volunteers (Afghans Fasil Ahmad and Besmillah, Belgian Hélène de Beir, Norwegian "Egil Tynæs, and Dutchman Willem Kwint) were killed on 2 June in an ambush by unidentified militia near "Khair Khāna in "Badghis Province.[118] In June 2007, Elsa Serfass, a volunteer with MSF-France, was killed[119] in the Central African Republic and in January 2008, two expatriate staff (Damien Lehalle and Victor Okumu) and a national staff member (Mohammed Bidhaan Ali) were killed in an organized attack[120] in Somalia resulting in the closing of the project.

Arrests and abductions in politically unstable regions can also occur for volunteers, and in some cases, MSF field missions can be expelled entirely from a country. "Arjan Erkel, Head of Mission in "Dagestan in the "North Caucasus, was kidnapped and held hostage in an unknown location by unknown abductors from 12 August 2002 until 11 April 2004. Paul Foreman, head of MSF-Holland, was arrested in Sudan in May 2005 for refusing to divulge documents used in compiling a report on rapes carried out by the pro-government "Janjaweed militias (see "Darfur conflict). Foreman cited the privacy of the women involved, and MSF alleged that the Sudanese government had arrested him because it disliked the bad publicity generated by the report.[121]

On 14 August 2013, MSF announced that it was closing all of its programmes in Somalia due to attacks on its staff by "Al-Shabaab militants and perceived indifference or "inurement to this by the governmental authorities and wider society.[122]

On 3 October 2015, 14 staff and 28 others died when an MSF hospital "was bombed by American forces during the "Battle of Kunduz.[123]

On 27 October 2015, an MSF hospital in "Sa'dah, Yemen "was bombed by the "Saudi Arabia-led military coalition.[124]

On 28 November 2015, an MSF-supported hospital was barrel-bombed by a Syrian Air Force helicopter, killing seven and wounding forty-seven people near Homs, Syria.[125]

On 10 January 2016, an MSF-supported hospital in Sa'dah was bombed by the "Saudi Arabia-led military coalition, killing six people.[126]

On 15 February 2016, two MSF-supported hospitals in "Idlib District and "Aleppo, Syria were bombed, killing at least 20 and injuring dozens of patients and medical personnel.[127][128] Both Russia and the United States denied responsibility and being in the area at the time.[129]

On 28 April 2016, an MSF hospital in Aleppo was bombed, killing 50, including six staff and patients.[130]


Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders

"Living in Emergency is an award-winning documentary film by "Mark N. Hopkins that tells the story of four MSF volunteer doctors confronting the challenges of medical work in war-torn areas of Liberia and Congo. It premiered at the 2008 "Venice Film Festival and was theatrically released in the United States in 2010.

1999 Nobel Peace Prize[edit]

"James Orbinski speaking about MSF in 2015.

The then president of MSF, "James Orbinski, gave the Nobel Peace Prize speech on behalf of the organization. In the opening, he discusses the conditions of the victims of the Rwandan Genocide and focuses on one of his woman patients: “There were hundreds of women, children and men brought to the hospital that day, so many that we had to lay them out on the street and even operate on some of them there. The gutters around the hospital ran red with blood. The woman had not just been attacked with a machete, but her entire body rationally and systematically mutilated. Her ears had been cut off. And her face had been so carefully disfigured that a pattern was obvious in the slashes. She was one among many — living an inhuman and simply indescribable suffering. We could do little more for her at the moment than stop the bleeding with a few necessary sutures. We were completely overwhelmed, and she knew that there were so many others. She said to me in the clearest voice I have ever heard, 'Allez, allez…ummera, ummerasha' — 'Go, go…my friend, find and let live your courage.'" [131] Orbinski affirmed the organization’s commitment to publicizing the issues MSF encountered, stating “Silence has long been confused with neutrality, and has been presented as a necessary condition for humanitarian action. From its beginning, MSF was created in opposition to this assumption. We are not sure that words can always save lives, but we know that silence can certainly kill.”[132]

Lasker Prize[edit]

MSF received 2015 "Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award.[133]


A number of other non-governmental organizations have adopted names ending in "Sans Frontières" or "Without Borders", inspired by Médecins Sans Frontières: for example, "Engineers Without Borders and "Reporters Without Borders.

See also[edit]


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  94. ^ Drugs and Medical Supplies Catalogue Vol. 1 (2005) F-75 Description MSF.
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  114. ^ "Novartis loses landmark India cancer drug patent case". Reuters. 1 April 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  115. ^ MSF Article (2004) Military humanitarianism: A deadly confusion MSF. Retrieved 12 January 2006.
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  118. ^ MSF Article (2004) MSF pulls out of Afghanistan MSF. Retrieved 17 January 2006.
  119. ^ MSF Press Release. "MSF: Ongoing insecurity in CAR threatens lives of civilians and humanitarians, blocking urgent medical care". Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  120. ^ MSF Press Release. "MSF: MSF is shocked and outraged by attack on our team in Somalia". Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  121. ^ MSF Article (2005) MSF shocked by arrest of Head of Mission in Sudan – charged with crimes against the state MSF. Retrieved 11 January 2006.
  122. ^ Karunakara, Unni. "Why MSF decided to leave Somalia". Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  123. ^ Christopher Stokes (4 October 2015). "Death toll rises" (Press release). Médecins Sans Frontières. 
  124. ^ "Airstrikes hit Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Yemen ". The Guardian. 27 October 2015.
  125. ^ "Syria: Barrel bombing of MSF-supported hospital kills seven". Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  126. ^ "MSF-supported hospital bombed in Yemen: death toll rises to six". Médecins Sans Frontières. 17 January 2016
  127. ^ "Syrian war: Suspected Russian air strikes destroy two hospitals – despite so-called Syria 'ceasefire'". The Independent UK. 15 February 2016
  128. ^ "MSF-supported hospital bombed by Russian Air Force in Northern Syria". The UK Guardian. 15 February 2016
  129. ^ CBS/AP February 16, 2016, 8:23 AM (2016-02-16). "U.S. and Russia both deny bombing Syrian clinic". Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  130. ^ Kareem Shaheen in Beirut; Ian Black (2016-04-28). "Airstrike on MSF-backed Aleppo hospital kills patients and doctors". Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  131. ^ Abrams, Irwin (2001). The Nobel Peace Prize and the laureates: An illustrated biographical history, 1901–2001. Nantucket, Massachusetts: Science History Publications. pp. 351–352. 
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  133. ^ "2015 Lasker Prize for MSF (in Spanish)". 2015-09-08. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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