Non-profit

Doctors Without Borders

Formation:

1971

Type:

International Aid Organization

Doctors Without Borders is an international aid organization which specializes in providing medical care. It was founded in 1971 by doctors and journalists who wanted to provide medical care and atrocity awareness without consideration of national boundaries. The organization’s original name was Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which translates to English as Doctors Without Borders. [1]

The organization is primarily apolitical, and it credits its ethics and principles for its 1999 receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. [2] However, it publicly supports abortion and other left-leaning causes. [3][4]

Mission and History

Doctors Without Borders has a three-part charter which guide its care-based mission:

Medical ethics are a core part of the organization’s research and service. A 2002 ethics board reviews all of Doctors Without Borders’ research. [5]

The organization seeks independence from government funding so it may provide services to whomever it wishes and so it may speak out on issues. [6]

The organization was founded after journalists and medical volunteers saw the International Red Cross stay silent on alleged atrocities in Nigeria, and it continues this practice where it believes necessary, most recently including the Syrian Civil War. [7]

Most of Doctors Without Borders’ work is providing medical care. Nearly 12 million people were seen in outpatient and inpatient capacities in 72 countries in 2018. [8]

In 1999, Dr. James Orbinski accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Doctors Without Borders. He used the platform to condemn Russia’s bombing of Chechnya and to highlight Doctors Without Borders’ refusal to be silent on atrocities while providing humanitarian aid. The prize money was used to create a pilot program for treatments of a number of diseases. [9]

Refusing to be silent on atrocities was critical to Doctors Without Borders’ 13 founders. The organization’s initial forays into international humanitarian aid included informing the public about human rights violations, something which the group says differentiated it from the International Red Cross, which focused on care without taking positions on governmental and political policies. [10]

Doctors Without Borders was originally a “guerilla” organization. However, being ill-funded and little-organized proved to be a challenge, so in 1979 80 percent of its leadership chose to create a “professional” operation. Those who opposed the move created a new group, Doctors of the World. [11]

Left-of-Center Public Advocacy

Refugees and Migration

Doctors Without Borders has made international news for its criticism of migrant treatment by the European Union and especially Italy. In 2018, the group worked with SOS Mediterranee to transport refugees from Libya to Italy, but the refugees were turned away due to alleged health concerns. [12] Doctors Without Borders condemned this policy and urged the European Union to open its borders to refugees who make dangerous crossings across the Mediterranean Sea to escape Libya’s civil war.

Abortion

The organization also supports such as access to abortion and contraception as part of reducing maternal mortality, especially in African nations where women are at significant risk of dying during childbirth. A March 2019 webinar focused on these two areas of concern as well as obstetric care. [13] An op-ed on Doctors Without Borders’ website cites the organization as a provider of abortions, and endorses the principle that “safe abortions save lives.” [14] Doctors Without Borders’ regularly treats women who survive unsafe and/or illegal abortions.

The group formally opposes bans on abortion at 12 weeks’ gestation and urges governments to set up systems and standards so that women have easier and safer access to abortion. [15] It also opposes the Mexico City Policy signed and expanded by President Donald Trump, arguing that banning international abortion and abortion-related funding harms women in nations like Venezuela, where people are fleeing a political, humanitarian, and economic crisis. Doctors Without Borders notes that the U.S. is the world’s largest provider of “global health funding,” so the Mexico City Policy has a significant impact reducing abortions and abortion referrals around the world. [16]

Environmentalism

Doctors Without Borders also supports climate alarmism, blaming climate change for natural disasters in several countries. [17] It published a November 2018 report alleging “dramatic health consequences” of climate change on people in crisis situations. [18] This report cited climate change as a factor which could increase the number of displaced, persecuted, and otherwise endangered people around the world.

Doctors Without Borders has engaged in practical efforts to reduce environmental damage and how that damage impacts people’s health, such as opposing certain types of mining in Nigeria. [19]

Controversies

In 2017, Doctors Without Borders fired 19 people accused of sexual abuse. [20] The group said it publicized the firings to show its transparency and accountability after internal complaints and investigations discovered the allegations had merit.

In 2018, anonymous former staff members claimed that Doctors Without Borders staff were using local prostitutes in war and medical zones, against company policy. [21]

The group also admitted in a report to paying the terrorist group Al-Qaeda for access to people in need. The same reason motivated its apology to the Yemeni government after accusing it of humanitarian violations. Doctors Without Borders said these negotiations and actions were done to ensure its work could be done. [22]

Financials

Doctors Without Borders has thousands of donors which provided over $394 million in funding in 2017 and over $408 million in 2018. It had almost $238 million in assets in 2018 and employed 30,000 people. [23] Expenses totaled almost $427 million in 2018, for a loss of over $14.9 million. [24]

Leadership

Doctors Without Borders’ senior leadership consists of a number of medical professionals and longtime Doctors Without Borders staff. [25]

Jason Cone is executive director of Doctors Without Borders’ U.S. arm. A writer for Center for Reproductive Rights and Earth Times – an abortion advocacy group and an environmental activist publication, respectively – early in his career, he was director of communications prior to being executive director. [26] Cone wrote in 2015 about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, describing Doctors Without Borders’ role as assisting Palestinians with mental health. The piece was largely neutral, though he described the situation as an “occupation,” and described Doctors Without Borders’ role as “protest in the face of an occupation…”[27]

Christos Christou was elected as Doctors Without Borders’ president in 2019. A Greek doctor who has served a number of international missions, he has worked with Doctors Without Borders in conflict zones such as South Sudan and Iraq. [28]

Africa Stewart is president of Doctors Without Borders’ U.S. Board of Directors and has been on five international missions with the organization. [29] An OB-GYN, she endorses the use of abortion as a means of providing health care. [30]

References

  1. Doctors Without Borders, Founding, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/history/founding ^
  2. Doctors Without Borders, Principles, Accessed January 18,, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/principles/independence ^
  3. Doctors Without Borders, “Video: US global gag rule cuts access to care for Venezuelan women,” September 26, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/story/video-us-global-gag-rule-cuts-access-care-venezuelan-women     ^
  4. Avril Benoit, “Climate emergency: A humanitarian call to action,” September 19, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/news/climate-emergency-humanitarian-call-action ^
  5. Doctors Without Borders, Medical ethics, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/principles/medical-ethics ^
  6. Doctors Without Borders, Independence, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/principles/independence ^
  7. Doctors Without Borders, Bearing witness, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/principles/bearing-witness ^
  8. Doctors Without Borders, 2018 Annual Report, November 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/sites/default/files/2019-11/MSF_ANNUAL%20REPORT_2018_Final_Version.pdf ^
  9. Doctors Without Borders, Nobel Peace Prize, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/history/nobel-peace-prize ^
  10. Doctors Without Borders, Founding, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/history/founding ^
  11. Doctors Without Borders, Founding, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/history/founding ^
  12. Doctors Without Borders, “European policies continue to claim lives at sea,” June 12, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/story/european-policies-continue-claim-lives-sea ^
  13. Doctors Without Borders, “Saving Women’s Lives Webcast: Progress Against Maternal Mortality,” March 20, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2019. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/saving-womens-lives-webcast ^
  14. Manisha Kumar, “I’ve seen with my own eyes, safe abortion saves lives,” September 26, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/story/ive-seen-my-own-eyes-safe-abortion-saves-lives ^
  15. Doctors Without Borders, “Unsafe abortion: A forgotten emergency,” March 7, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/story/unsafe-abortion-forgotten-emergency ^
  16. Doctors Without Borders, “Video: US global gag rule cuts access to care for Venezuelan women,” September 26, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/story/video-us-global-gag-rule-cuts-access-care-venezuelan-women ^
  17. Avril Benoit, “Climate emergency: A humanitarian call to action,” September 19, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/news/climate-emergency-humanitarian-call-action ^
  18. Lancet Countdown, Doctors Without Borders, “Climate change and health: An urgent new frontier for humanitarianism,” November 2018. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/sites/default/files/2019-11/Climate_Change_and_Heatlh.pdf ^
  19. Doctors Without Borders, “A crisis in the making: MSF and the global health impact of climate change,” July 19, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.ca/article/crisis-making-msf-and-global-health-impact-climate-change ^
  20. Luke Baker, “Doctors Without Borders fired 19 people for sexual abuse last year,” February 14, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-oxfam-msf/doctors-without-borders-fired-19-people-for-sexual-abuse-last-year-idUSKCN1FY2QC ^
  21. Anna Adams,” Medicins Sans Frontieres staff ‘used local prostitutes,’” June 21, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44523086 ^
  22. Guy Gugliotta, “The big dilemma facing Doctors Without Borders,” April 2013. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/the-big-dilemma-facing-doctors-without-borders-4946758/ ^
  23. Doctors Without Borders, 2018 Annual Report, November 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/sites/default/files/2019-11/MSF_ANNUAL%20REPORT_2018_Final_Version.pdf ^
  24. Doctors Without Borders, 2018 990, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/2018%20Form%20990%20PUBLIC%20DISCLOSURE%20COPY.pdf ^
  25. Doctors Without Borders, 2018 990, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/2018%20Form%20990%20PUBLIC%20DISCLOSURE%20COPY.pdf ^
  26. Doctors Without Borders, U.S. Office, Jason Cone, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/us-office/our-leadership/jason-cone ^
  27. Jason Cone, “The humanitarian’s dilemma,” July 15, 2015. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/15/the-humanitarians-dilemma-palestine-gaza-doctors-without-borders/ ^
  28. Doctors Without Borders, Leadership, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/how-we-work/our-leadership ^
  29. Doctors Without Borders, U.S. Board of Directors, Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/who-we-are/us-office/us-board-directors ^
  30. Dr. Africa Stewart, “Fries Prize Award Remarks,” November 4, 2019. Accessed January 18, 2020. https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/story/dr-africa-stewart-fries-prize-award-remarks ^
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