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Spotlight on Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Celebrating anniversaries

Our organisation is turning 50 this year.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was officially created on 22nd December 1971. At the time, 300 volunteers made up the organisation: doctors, nurses and other staff, including the 13 founding doctors and journalists. MSF was created with the belief that all people have the right to medical care regardless of gender, race, religion, creed or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries. 

Our journey has always been that of evolution and change as it started in one European capital and expanded to several others, led by a group of individuals sharing a belief in the same principles and vision of humanitarian medical action. In the past couple of years, the increasing need for proximity and agility in supporting our missions in countries around the world has challenged this euro-centric model and led to a process of gradual decentralisation in key locations such as Dakar (Senegal) for West and Central Africa, Nairobi (Kenya) for East Africa, joining earlier moves like the one of Johannesburg (South Africa) for Southern Africa, and Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Amman (Jordan), Beirut (Lebanon) for the Middle East region, as well as Mexico for Central America.

Our office in the UAE was initially established in 1992, and is today a member of the International Humanitarian City of Dubai. Our presence is articulated around four main components: a team which manages our medical humanitarian projects across the region; one that runs our logistics platform in support of our programs worldwide, one that raises awareness of our work in the region and beyond; and one that focuses on resource mobilisation through recruitment, partnerships, events and campaigns.


Focus on Africa

For the past few years, MSF has turned its eyes to the Global South, working hard to strengthen our operational capability, ensure diverse participation, and enable more autonomy at the local level. One key challenge to address for MSF is ensuring more diverse staff fostering active and collaborative contributions to humanitarian ventures.

One of the initiatives is our presence in Dakar, Senegal which contributes to more agility and adaptability to our interventions in the West and Central Africa region. A project like Dakar helps to decentralise decision-making and humanitarian operations on the African continent and create more convergence between our different operations in the region. 

We will also work in creating synergy with a more recent initiative, the West and Central Africa Operational Directorate (WaCA). MSF WaCA, which is currently based in Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire, was created by a group of physicians and other associates in the region to drive a change in momentum to continue to conduct medical-humanitarian operations ever closer to patients and communities. Evolving our approaches and practices in a region like West and Central Africa is a necessity and the Dakar and Abidjan offices have a huge role to play. 


A regional base already allows us to be closer to the information as we are surrounded by a dynamic humanitarian and media network as well as institutes of reference in the medical research and educational field. It is a privileged environment for the exchange of humanitarian expertise and for scientific cooperation.

However, what’s seems even more significant now, is focusing on what can help us to better understand our environment, in the very volatile context in which we are working, where providing aid is a constant threat, where we face attacks, arrests and kidnappings. We need to react quickly to adapt our responses while continuing critical reflections on our approaches.


Closer to us

To find out more about our work, please visit our website: You will find our social media handles to follow us and keep yourself updated, as well as our contact details.

But mostly, come celebrate our anniversary with us, and take a tour of our Museum showcasing 50 photos for 50 years of humanity:


Do get in touch!

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