Thank You, Medecins Sans Frontieres (aka: Doctors Without Borders)
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by John Hopkins CSSE
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There is a humanitarian medical NGO organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), aka Doctors Without Borders, that had always been quietly but actively working at containing outbreaks at various countries. With respect to the current COVID-19 outbreak, MSF has provided specialized medical protective equipment to Wuhan Jinyintan hospital in the capital city of China’s Hubei province—the epicenter of the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, now called COVID-19 and providing community education in Hong Kong.
Information below is provided by MSF:
MSF is sending 3.5 metric tons of medical protective equipment from its supply center in Brussels, through the Hubei Charity Federation, to Wuhan Jinyintan hospital—one of the hospitals on the forefront of treating patients with COVID-19.
At the end of January, MSF also began a health education project in Hong Kong to provide information to vulnerable communities about how to identify symptoms and protect themselves from the disease. MSF will also send one metric ton of personal protective equipment to the Hong Kong St. John Ambulance service to supplement supplies until their stocks can be replenished.
“As of February 14, there are more than 64,000 COVID-19 cases, 99 percent of which are in China,” said Gert Verdonck, MSF’s emergency coordinator for COVID-19. “Medical protective equipment is key. So, we want to contribute to supporting frontline health workers with the specialized protection they need to work safely in an outbreak of this magnitude.”
“Our teams have already conducted face-to-face sessions with street cleaners, refugees, asylum seekers, and the visually impaired in recent weeks,” said Karin Huster, who oversees MSF’s project in Hong Kong. “We share up-to-date, evidence-based medical information. Perhaps even more crucially, we’re there to listen and answer the many questions that this new disease has generated. Fear can often spread faster than a virus, so helping people manage their stress and anxiety is a key focus for us.”
May Chan, a street cleaner in Hong Kong, attended an MSF health promotion session on COVID-19. “It is the first time to learn that if I cough without a tissue, I should cough into my elbow but not my hands. This helps keep my hands clean, and I think it is important for a cleaner to know that,” she said. Chan believes the correct application of infection prevention measures—such as frequent hand washing and wearing face masks properly—can help her stay healthy.
MSF is also making preparations in case of an outbreak in other countries where it works. “In countries where MSF is operational, our patients are of particular concern,” said Dr. Tankred Stoebe, MSF emergency coordinator currently traveling across Southeast Asia. “Patients with already weakened immune systems are likely to be more vulnerable to a severe course of coronavirus. We are already speaking to our patients, such as our Hepatitis C patients in Cambodia, [about] what symptoms to look out for in order to provide them with accurate information and to help alleviate their fears.”
In several countries—predominantly in South and Southeast Asia—MSF is in contact with the health authorities and offering support should it be needed. This includes training of health workers on infection prevention and control measures and health education for vulnerable and at-risk groups, similar to MSF’s activities in 2003 during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), caused by a related type of coronavirus.
“Lower middle-income countries like Cambodia or Laos have under-resourced health systems,” Stoebe said. “They struggle to provide services to their populations even without the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak. If a major epidemic occurs, these health systems could collapse. Precautions and preparation are critical at this stage to avoid health care facilities contributing to the spread of the disease.”
Excerpt from Wikipedia, in italics, about Medecins Sans Frontieres (aka Doctors Without Borders):
It is an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation (NGO) of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases. In 2019, over 35,000 personnel—mostly local doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators—provided medical aid in over 70 countries. Private donors provide about 90% of the organisation’s funding, while corporate donations provide the rest, giving MSF an annual budget of approximately US$1.63 billion.
Médecins Sans Frontières was founded in 1971, in the aftermath of the Biafra secession, by a small group of French doctors and journalists who sought to expand accessibility to medical care across national boundaries and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation. To that end, the organization emphasizes “independence and impartiality”, and explicitly precludes political, economic, or religious factors in its decision making. For these reasons, it limits the amount of funding received from governments or intergovernmental organizations. These principles have allowed MSF to speak freely with respect to acts of war, corruption, or other hindrances to medical care or human well-being. Only once in its history, during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has the organization called for military intervention.
MSF’s principles and operational guidelines are highlighted in its Charter, the Chantilly Principles, and the later La Mancha Agreement. Governance is addressed in Section 2 of the Rules portion of this final document. MSF has an associative structure, where operational decisions are made, largely independently, by the five operational centers (Amsterdam, Barcelona–Athens, Brussels, Geneva and Paris). Common policies on core issues are coordinated by the International Council, in which each of the 24 sections (national offices) is represented. The International Council meets in Geneva, Switzerland, where the International Office, which coordinates international activities common to the operational centers, is also based.
MSF has general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It received the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its members’ continued efforts to provide medical care in acute crises, as well as raising international awareness of potential humanitarian disasters. 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. Joanne Liu has served as the international president since 1 October 2013.
Thank you, Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres), for all that you do!
To find out more about Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF (Doctors Without Borders), please click HERE.
To find out who these dedicated people working at MSF are, please click HERE.
To find out more about what MSF does, please click HERE.
To find out how you may help to support MSF, please click HERE.
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