For international humanitarian aid groups, saving lives inevitably involves compromise — such as negotiating with despots, putting employees in harm’s way and sometimes even promoting military intervention. How do such groups navigate on-the-ground realities while maintaining their principles? We’ll discuss these issues and more with Sophie Delaunay, executive director of the U.S. section of Doctors Without Borders.

Doctors Without Borders: Life-Saving Aid, Tough Compromises 31 October,2012forum

Sophie Delaunay, executive director of the U.S. Section of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

  • Rhet

    I’ve used free clinics in the USA on occasion, and I’ve never seen nor heard of any contribution to them by Doctors Without Borders, despite the huge mostly unmet need for help. The corporate-occupied Federal government seems to not care at all about the plight of the uninsured, except to exploit them to enrich the insurance companies under Obamacare. In recent decades the corporate-run duopoly has shifted to treating citizens and migrants as de facto powerless, unnecessary and disposable peasants, similar perhaps like how common people are treated in places like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. If only there were some kind of secondary populist government in the USA to provide healthcare and in other ways make up for the abandonment of the People by our so-called elected representatives who tax us and provide little in return.

    • rageahol

      this is because MSF/Doctors-Without-Borders, as stated on their website, “…provides independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to
      people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or
      catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need.”

      in other words, they generally don’t intervene in rich nations like the US. if you look on their map the very few interventions (read:3) they have in the rich countries of the EU are because of huge influxes of immigrants.

      • Fred

        What you’re saying is disconnected from reality. The gap between haves and have-nots in the USA has widened to the point where one hospital visit can lead to a life of debt slavery for any poor person. How does that make America rich?
        Just because the 1% (like you?) are doing well that doesn’t mean the 99% is.

        • rageahol

          you’re preaching to the choir about the underserved. but it is not MSF’s mission to address inequality in rich countries. there are a number of other domestic organizations that deal with that. if you don’t find one that works for you, you’re also free to raise money to start one. i will be happy to sign up and volunteer.

          comparing first-world debt peonage to the aftermath of a hurricane in haiti is a bit much, honestly. one word: cholera.

          self-absorbed much?

  • My daughter (20) would like to do this at some point in the next 10years. She would like to bring me (her father) along with her. Is that something that can be accommodated or tolerated?

    • disqus_1ue6A2vtgb

      In general, for profit (business/commercials) and non-profit
      (volunteered) entities limited their liabilities to the only person that
      they work directly with. Therefore, I doubt Doctors Without Borders
      would be happy having you tagged along with. You two could signed-up together and asked if the two of you be assigned to the same post (countries.) The biggest challenges when the two of you together is emotional attachment. Just think what happened if natural disaster happened such as hurricane, fire, or military conflict arise. Will you willingly to leave the area without your daughter or vice versa. Wish you and your daughter the best of luck and wonderful, experienced times together when an opportunity arise.

  • Guest

    As I understand MSF does not utilize Physician Assistants at the moment. Does MSF have plans of including what the American medical system called ‘mid-level practitioners’ in their future missions?

  • Don

    Through Nov. 14th, over 40 local Half Moon Bay artists are participating in a fundraiser auction with all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders. The art pieces can be viewed in person at the gallery at Pasta Moon Restaurant in HMB or at this link:

  • disqus_1ue6A2vtgb

    Doctors Without Borders works primarily in war-torn countries, third world (underdeveloped) countries that suffered natural disasters (hurricanes, famines, or in unstable/non-existing central governments that need basic health cares. The USA, Canada, UK, and many Europeans countries are considered developed countries due to their economic wealth, (well-established) public health, stable government. Granted! There will always be underserved population in all countries developed or underdeveloped no matters what. I am pretty sure two/three generations ago, people with different political spectrum in the USA would said about the same (ObamaCare) Changes under Great Depressions with FDRs’, LBJs’. We, the current generations, hate to pay taxes, lack health care services. Have anyone of us, asked our parents, grand-parents, great grand-parents what would be like if there weren’t no social security benefits, Medical, welfare system. At one time or the others they all asked for central/public government assistants, regulations. So please don’t let prejudice, political ideology clouded your judgement. Thankyou.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor