Topic : humanitarian action

Volunteers and responsibility for risk-taking: Changing interpretations of the Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières

The Charter of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the guiding document for all of the organization's members, states in the final paragraph that volunteers "understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out". Through a review of the different periods in the history of MSF, this article analyzes the changing interpretations that the organization's successive leaders have given to this reference to the acceptance of risk by individuals.

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Counterterrorism policies and practices: health and values at stake

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used a fake vaccination programme to obtain DNA samples in the search for Osama Bin Laden, which caused distrust and hampered polio eradication and other public health efforts in Pakistan. The Obama administration’s vow that the CIA will never again exploit a vaccination programme in its counterterrorism efforts therefore came as welcome news to global health and humanitarian communities.
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Reconstruction of the health sector in Haiti: a missed opportunity?

The impact of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was devastating for a country whose history was already marked by poverty, natural disasters, environmental degradation and political instability. An outbreak of cholera several months later further hampered reconstruction efforts. At the same time, this presented an opportunity to rebuild and develop the country, including an already extremely fragile and inequitable health system.
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Working in a prison in Myanmar: Médecins Sans Frontières’ experience working in Insein prison

Working in a prison for a humanitarian organisation is not easy, particularly because of the specific characteristics of such places. Médecins Sans Frontières’ experience working in Insein prison illustrates the difficulties of achieving objectives both in terms of results (long term provision of appropriate and full medical care to patients) and working conditions (minimal manipulation, indiscriminate access to patients, etc.).

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“From the American People”: the US Farm Bill and the reform of emergency food aid

On Nov 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines. Winds of up to 235 km/h cut through the province of Eastern Samar as the storm progressed westwards and further towards the centre of the island archipelago. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, a myriad of humanitarian stakeholders scrambled to provide basic services including health care, shelter, and food to the affected population.

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Humanitarian work in prisons: the experience of Médecins Sans Frontières

Humanitarian action by NGOs in detention centres is quite rare and poorly documented. Despite the fact that prisoners are among those who have the least access to quality health care services, MSF has never chosen to make detention centres one of its strategic priorities. The inherent difficulties linked to this operational context explain the limited number of projects the organisation has developed and managed in prisons.
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Aid and Quality, Haiti: The limits of the "Aid System"

The present article looks at the 2010 aid efforts in Haiti, a year in which 2 events resulted in massive humanitarian crisis. The first, the January 2010 earthquake, triggered overwhelming mobilization of aid: hundreds of actors poured into the country, deploying large scale emergency assistance. The second event, a cholera epidemic, started in October and received much media attention, but met with an overstretched aid community.
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