How we respond
Emergencies are messy, complex and chaotic. People's lives are threatened, families shattered and the future is uncertain. The medical humanitarian needs are often huge.
MSF is designed to respond fast – we have a network of medics and aid experts across some 70 countries. Our financial independence means we can act rapidly, without waiting for governments or other institutions to release funds.
This reach and independence means we will always try to help the people in greatest need, rather than tailoring our response to the demands of funders, politicians or the media. People come first.
Our focus is emergency response. But emergencies don't always happen suddenly or hit the headlines.
We have worked in some countries – such as Myanmar and Sudan – for more than 30 years, helping generations access healthcare.
In many places where we work there are no other healthcare providers or aid organisations. In other places we work closely with Ministries of Health or other partners to ensure the best care for our patients.
We never launch an emergency appeal for a particular place unless we are certain we can spend the money on that specific crisis; there are no asterisks or hidden disclaimers diverting money to other parts of the organisation.
We've even offered money back when public generosity has outstripped what we could use, or else made sure our supporters were happy for their money to be spent elsewhere.
Except for these special emergency appeals, we ask that people give to our general funds, contributing to an emergency reserve which is ready to use when a disaster strikes.
"Humanitarianism is not a tool to end war or create peace. It is a citizen's response to political failure"
- Dr. James Orbinski, former MSF President
We're a network
Human connections are at the heart of our work; our medics reach our patients thanks to a vast network of staff and supporters. Collectively, we help millions of people every year.
Many former patients have become MSF staff, inspired by the care they received. Our teams come from dozens of countries, moving across borders to help wherever they are needed.
MSF was set up to make this possible on a global scale. We have built a network of individuals that connects supporters with medics and patients to help the people in greatest need.
Fifty years on, we have more than 45,000 staff around the world. These individuals own and run MSF, making collective decisions and shaping the future of the MSF movement.
And we are funded by millions of individual supporters, allowing us to respond quickly and remain fiercely independent.