Medicine and MSF
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There are nearly 7.2 billion people on our planet. Isn't that shocking? As it is, I think most of us Generation Y's are feeling that we are running out of space. For what? I'm not exactly sure. In fact, space is no longer the issue. Rather, it is affordable, efficient and available health care. The international program, Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontieres (pardon the lack of accent grave for any French readers), caught my eye in this respect. Actually, my father and I have been following it for quite some time now. Did you know that in 1999, probably before some of us were born, MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? Regardless, the organization does not define itself by the awards it receives. Rather, it defines itself by the achievement it reaches on the field and in the hearts of millions.
I received the great honor of being able to speak with MSF's international director, Mrs. Sophie Delaunay, about the organization, some of its plans for the future and its goals for bettering health administration around the world.
"Solidarity, Action, Risk-Taking, Medical ethics, Humanitarian, and Universal Aide" are some of the words that Delaunay used to describe the core of the organization. Those are the very things that undoubtedly go to evidence the success the organization has reached in the past few decades. When asked about the 3 main focuses of their mission work, Delaunay stated: "...it mainly involves handling drug-resistant TB, working with DRTB in terms of testing and adequate medicinal supply of vaccinations and treatments, HIV/AIDS research and development, and working with communicable/ chronic diseases". Of course, their outreach extends far beyond, but in recent times, these necessities have become the mother of their inventions. With the devastation in the Philippines last week, MSF is also working on aiding with ground work and spreading medical services to areas of need.
When it comes to Africa, Delaunay truly believes in its diversity (geographical, social, cultural, ethnic, health-wise, economic, etc.) Because the continent differs and changes so much within such a vast area of land, it is difficult to define Africa's troubles to a single area or problem. In that way, Delaunay identified HIV-prevalence in Sub-Saharan, Southern Africa as well as malnourishment/ HIV strains in the Horn of Africa. "The only hope to be found for the continent as a whole will come when African countries begin prioritizing, gaining strong leadership and focusing on health/ medical care" she remarked.
Bottom line, foreign aide is critical! For example, let's take a look at the typical problem area in society---treatment of women. In MSF action countries, women are mostly vulnerable to death or illness during childbirth. The proper facilities and processes do not exist and MSF is working in every way possible to change this. Whether it be training local doctors, doing ground work, going to refugee camps or setting up clinics, MSF is on the job.
"Adaptation is key", says Delaunay about being innovative and dynamic in service and non-profit activism. However, more significance comes of the volunteers who Delaunay described as being the "DNA of the organization".
Finally, in talking on the topic of media, Delaunay explained that MSF "wants media and reporters to cover medical topics and crises such as DRTB, poor obstetric care, etc." because they are the backbone of international communications. Most of the time, global health topics are overlooked. Now, it's time for change!
Delaunay encourages teens to get involved with service and medicine by "exposing yourself, getting information, volunteering in a form of immersion and building a passion for changing lives". Her more than 20 years of extensive work in the field has been a major part of her own journey of service. Having been on mission/groundwork trips since the age of 15 or so, she has definitely done her part to be an early mover and shaker within society. Thank you Mrs. Delaunay for the interview and I encourage you all to visit www.msf.org to learn more about how to get involved.