This year Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is celebrating its 40th birthday.
One of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations devoted to humanitarian aid, MSF was founded in 1971 by a group of French doctors, who were shocked by the situation of famine in Biafra and concluded that a new aid organization was needed that would ignore political/religious boundaries and prioritize the welfare of the victims of tragedies.
The organization blazed new trails with regard to medical humanitarian aid by offering its health-care interventions independently of any political, military, or religious agendas. Since the 1980’s, MSF has been working to improve its medical-surgical and field logistics structure so as to extend its aid to an ever-growing number of people requiring assistance. The organization accompanies its medical assistance in disaster areas by publicly denouncing practices that threaten or block human development, as in the case of the misuse of funds sent to help Ethiopia. It also criticizes the behavior of the international community in some parts of the world, for example, during the genocide in Rwanda or the war in Kosovo. Today, MSF is made up of more than 30,000 medical volunteers who assist an average of 7 million people a year in 80 countries throughout the world.