Medecins Sans Frontières..
06 May 2019

We were very pleased to welcome Dr B Hauffe as speaker at our 6th May meeting. Dr Hauffe is a GP and volunteer with Medecins Sans Frontieres - doctors without borders. What followed was a moving tribute to the work that MSF does - but also a shocking indictment of political failure, warfare and human cruelty that makes their work so necessary.

MSF medical teams act fast to save people’s lives in conflict zones, natural disasters and epidemics. The teams go where they are needed most and the MSF charter covers three areas of work:

Emergency health care to those in need
Temoinage (witnessing)
Research and advocacy.

We heard that in 2017 MSF had 20,000 field staff and 10.5 million outpatients. Five European countries provide direct support - France, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland - with the bulk of its funding being from Europe. It was interesting to learn that around 92% of staff are nationals with 8% international. Dr Hauffe paid tribute to the essential work of MSF’s administrative workers - those who manage the, often dangerous, day to day organising that makes the work of the doctors possible.

Dr Hauffe also spoke of her own service with MSF - in Angola, Liberia, Haiti, Bahrain, Syria and South Sudan. She has responded to earthquake, civil war, cholera and the aftermath of the ‘Arab Spring’.

Pictures of the poor conditions in which the refugees, wounded and ill were existing were often shocking and it was sobering to hear that in a first mission to Angola she found only about 0.08% of people had access to safe piped water.

It was a revealing and disturbing talk, yet one that allowed a great appreciation and admiration for the work of MSF. Following many questions an appreciative vote of thanks was proposed by George Hunter.   

 

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