Doctors Without Borders

Normal 0 0 1 698 3983 33 7 4891 11.1282 0 0 0 Five weeks after a disastrous earthquake in Haiti resensitized us to humanitarian crises around the world, Haiti and the billions who are suffering are slipping past our minds. Of course, Haiti is still mentioned on the evening news, but just as the anchors of the big three networks were all comfortably back in their American studios after less than a week in Haiti, news about Haiti is less. People want to move on and have wanted to move on. Many grew weary of the unending focus on Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, and the news networks were happy to comply, shifting their focus to Scott Brown, the “Snowmageddon,” and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. As Haiti is forgotten and the world sinks back into peaceful oblivion about the food, water, and medical crises rampant in faraway and little-known places, a daily struggle for life remains the norm for billions around the world. Unbeknownst to our spongy selves, thousands of others, dedicated individuals, are doing all they can to alleviate global suffering. These people and their organizations work tirelessly to improve the lives of the unfortunate and deserve to be recognized and praised for their hard work and the devotion they show to their causes. In particular, Doctors Without Borders should be celebrated for everything it has done to better mankind. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was founded in 1971, in the wake of famine in Nigeria, by a group of French doctors and journalists. Since then, Doctors Without Borders has grown into a stellar international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries through more than 27,000 committed doctors, nurses, logistics experts, laboratory technicians, and the like. In 1999, Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize for its “pioneering humanitarian work across several continents.” Doctors Without Borders’s work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality, and the organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis, solely on the basis of need. Doctors Without Borders operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas and mainly in countries in which survival is threatened due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. In addition to field work, Doctors Without Borders will speak out and push for changes to bring forgotten crises back to public attention , criticize inadequacies in aid systems, or challenge the diversion of humanitarian aid for political interests. For example, it called for an international military response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide; condemned the Serbian massacre of civilians at Srebrenica in 1995; and called for international attention to the increased targeting of civilians in conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007. Doctors Without Borders is also pushing for increased access to medicines for the world’s poor. Millions die each year from treatable infectious diseases, and Doctors Without Borders is working to help lower the price of HIV/AIDS treatment, undertaking vaccination programs against outbreaks of diseases such as meningitis and measles, and stimulating research and development of medicines to treat such diseases as malaria and sleeping sickness. Doctors Without Borders is such an amazing relief group because, in the words of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, it “goes fearlessly to the worst places…far more efficient[ly] than the lumbering UN.” Despite the dangers they face and the unending spectacle of violence, atrocities, and neglect they witness, Doctors Without Borders medical teams remain emotionally strong and dedicated to their causes. In many instances, long after the UN and other humanitarian agencies had pulled out of an area that was deemed too dangerous, Doctors Without Borders workers could still be found on the ground, continuing to treat the sick. However, it’s not fair to judge these agencies based on their decisions when confronted with volatile situations like war zones. Is it right for aid agencies to pull out, sacrificing the welfare of the people? Is it right for aid agencies to stay, sacrificing the safety of their workers? Just last month, the World Food Program (a UN agency) suspended aid distribution to about one million people in southern Somalia following threats of violence against its staff. Doctors Without Borders still has operations within Somalia. The volunteers with Doctors Without Borders do a wonderful job at the impossible task they have set themselves upon: treating everyone without access to medical care. Thank you, Doctors Without Borders, for all the work you do, for making a difference in the lives of many, and for making the world a better place.