Médecins Sans Frontières

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Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (pronounced [medəsɛ̃ sɑ̃ fʁɔ̃tjɛʁ]  ( listen)), or Doctors Without Borders, is a secular humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic diseases. The organization is known in most of the world by its French name or simply as MSF, but in Canada, Ireland and the United States the name Doctors Without Borders is also used. In 2007 over 26,000, mostly local, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators provided medical aid in over 60 countries. Private donors provide about 85% of the organization's funding, while governmental and corporate donations provide the rest, giving MSF an annual budget of approximately US$400 million.[1]

Médecins Sans Frontières was created in 1971 by a small group of French doctors and journalists in the aftermath of the Biafra secession, who believed that all people have the right to medical care regardless of race, religion, creed or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national borders.[2]

Core documents outlining MSF's principles are the Charter[3] and the Chantilly Principles, along with the later La Mancha Agreement,[4] which in Rules, Section 2 addresses governance. MSF has an associative structure, where operational decisions are made, largely independently, by the 5 operational centres (Amsterdam, Barcelona-Athens, Brussels, Geneva and Paris). Common policies on core issues are coordinated by the International Council, in which each of the 19 sections (national offices) is represented. The International Council meets in Geneva, Switzerland, where the International Office, which coordinates international activities common to the operational centres, is also based.

The organization actively provides health care and medical training to populations in about 70 countries, and frequently insists on political responsibility in conflict zones such as Chechnya and Kosovo. Only once in its history, during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has the organisation called for military intervention. To be able to speak and act freely, MSF remains independent of any political, religious or economic powers. The majority of MSF activities are paid for with private donations.

MSF received the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its members' continuous effort to provide medical care in acute crises, as well as raising international awareness of potential humanitarian disasters.[5] Dr. James Orbinski, who was the president of the organization at the time, accepted the prize on behalf of MSF. Prior to this, MSF also received the 1996 Seoul Peace Prize.[6] The current president of MSF is Dr. Christophe Fournier.

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