MSF: Annual Assessment Meeting & Change of Chiefs [Archives:1999/08/Health]

February 22 1999

The French humanitarian non-governmental organization “Doctors Without Borders”, is well known in Yemen, where it has been operational for over 12 years known under its French acronym – MSF.
MSF is a private medical non-profit organization that came into being in 1971 to respond as quickly and as efficiently as possible to relieve populations in need, victims of natural disasters, conflicts and epidemics.
Although emergency work remains a top priority for MSF, its scope of action has equally widened, in the course of these years of experience, to include long-term programs. Emergency interventions (as in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Nicaragua, Sudan) are now running parallel to programs for street children (Madagascar, Guatemala) training (for surgeons in Ethiopia and rural health workers in Peru), support for the public health systems (Laos, Cambodia), together with preventive and curative care for populations in precarious conditions (shanty towns, aids, prison).
However, for whatever type of programs, MSF is always governed by the same principles on which all its volunteers subscribe on their honor. These principles are:
-The respect of medical ethics, which entails delivery of the same quality of care to all people.
-The independence vis a vis political, economic or religious institutions.
-The neutrality and impartiality in the name of everybody’s right and humanitarian aid.
Therefore, MSF always claims the complete liberty to exercise its relief duties, which it carries out without any racial, religious, ideological or political discrimination.
In Yemen, where MSF first came for an emergency program during a crisis, the organization has ever since developed long-term medical projects among the most vulnerable populations and with full support of the health authorities. The authorized access to populations, within an overall context of stability in the country, helps elaborate health projects involving community members.
Having come to Yemen for the first time during the 1986 coup, MSF stayed for about 8 years, working on the improvement of EPI in all southern governorates. At the time of reunification, MSF, with the backing and support of health authorities, undertook implementation of a 5-year project on the improvement of Primary Health Care in Dhi Sufal (Ibb Governorate). Furthermore, the organization took charge, in medical terms, of the Somali refugee camp (in Aden, then Abyan) from 1992 to 1994./ These 12 years of presence in the country has been punctuated by several emergencies: cholera in 90, bloody diarrhea in 93, civil war in 94, floods in 96 and malaria in 98.
In 1998, MSF developed 2 new programs, that had in fact been launched in late 1997 for duration of 5 years. The ultimate goal of both projects is to ease access of the poorest population groups to cost-effective health care. One of these two projects is situated in a remote rural area in the mountainous district of Hazm Al Udayn (Ibb Governorate); the other is in the urban governorate of Aden, with a population that is witnessing rapid growth and facing general impoverishment and increasing unemployment.
On the basis of the existing health care facilities and in accordance with the recent reforms of the Ministry of Health, MSF aims to ensure self-sufficiency of the health centers in terms of finance and drug supply with community participation. The project’s target is to improve accessibility to quality health care by means of:
-Sales of drug items (high quality drugs for low price) with a view to regularly purchasing a new stock of drugs.
-Payment for consultation services with the revenues to be utilized in facility maintenance and staff incentives.
-Transparency of drug and money management with accounts being regularly controlled by a population committee.
In the mean time, the organization continues to ensure its technical support to the district of Dhi Sufal, to offer its expertise whenever needed and to respond at the occurrence of potential emergencies (epidemics, conflicts, natural disastersÉ).
Doctors without Borders (MSF) would like to pay homage to the people of Yemen for the warm reception that has always been accorded to them. They gratefully extend thanks to their health partners for the friendly relations that have made the common work enjoyable and fruitful. MSF wishes to continue its medical endeavors on the same ground of mutual confidence and sound cooperation for the benefit of the Yemeni people and in particular the underprivileged.