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What next for refugees after the demolition of the Calais camp?

16 Nov, 16 | by BMJ

By Frédérique Drogoul and Samuel Hanryon

For most of 2016, whenever one of us visited the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) project in the refugee settlement in Calais, France, we would find new fences, new walls, and new areas where trees were cut down to allow police surveillance of residents. Surrounded by barriers on all sides, “The Jungle”—the name for this migrant camp located near a main port for crossing the English Channel into the UK—is built on a former industrial waste site. It is no place to live. more…

Bev Stringer: Drug regulation in the age of antimicrobial resistance

25 Oct, 16 | by BMJ

msflogoThe World Health Organization’s Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report 2016, released last week, is a sobering read. TB remains one of the world’s biggest killers, and cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are increasing.

With this in mind, the theme of this week’s 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health “confronting resistance: fundamentals to innovation” is welcome to the many patients and practitioners dealing with the agonising challenges of MDR-TB.  more…

Jason Cone: There is no such a thing as “free” vaccines: Why MSF rejected Pfizer’s donation offer of pneumonia vaccines

19 Oct, 16 | by BMJ

jason_coneI recently had the difficult task of telling Ian Read, Pfizer’s CEO, that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is rejecting the company’s offer to donate a significant number of pneumonia vaccine (PCV) doses for the children we serve. This is not a decision that we took lightly, since our medical teams working in the field witness the impact of pneumonia every day.

Pneumonia claims the lives of nearly one million kids each year, making it the world’s deadliest disease among children. Although there’s a vaccine to prevent this disease, it’s too expensive for many developing countries and humanitarian organizations, such as ours, to afford. As the only producers of the pneumonia vaccine, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are able to keep the price of the vaccine artificially high; since 2009, the two companies have earned $36 billion on this vaccine alone. For years, we have been trying to negotiate with the companies to lower the price of the vaccine, but they offered us donations instead. more…

Christopher Stokes: One year after Kunduz

4 Oct, 16 | by BMJ

msf_kunduz4Battlefields without doctors, in wars without limits

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is remembering one of the darkest moments in its history. On 3 October 2015, US airstrikes killed 42 people and destroyed the MSF trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

As we grieve the loss of our colleagues and patients, we are left with the question: is it still possible to safely provide medical care on the frontline? In the past year, there have been a further 77 attacks on medical facilities run and supported by MSF in Syria and Yemen. more…

Jean-Hervé Bradol: Humanitarian emergency in northeast Nigeria

4 Aug, 16 | by BMJ


Credit: Claire Magone/MSF

Several days ago I returned from Borno state in northeast Nigeria, where a catastrophic humanitarian emergency is quietly unfolding.

I was there to assess the situation and help set up Médecins Sans Frontières’ aid activities in one of those towns—Bama, approximately 70 kilometers southeast of Maiduguri, the state capital. On arrival, we found high numbers of people on the brink of death and in urgent need of food and medical care.

Until recently, Bama and the surrounding area had been under control of Boko Haram and completely inaccessible. For close to two years, people in the region had extremely limited access to medical care and food. more…

Mara Evans blogs from a maternity ward in South Sudan

21 Jul, 16 | by BMJ

MaraProfile picThe day was hot and quiet. Ward rounds had finished and the local midwife and I were waiting on a woman’s seventh baby. The other midwife had just examined our labouring patient and told me she was dilating well at seven centimetres. Generally, when a person is giving birth to their seventh baby things can happen quite fast, so we were prepared for the woman to tell us when she needed to push.

Women labour next to each other in the maternity department, and mostly prefer to lay down while they do. I attempt to encourage women to walk about, as this can help with labour, but my pantomime actions are apparently hilarious, and usually not considered seriously. more…

Sarah Venis: Debating evidence and innovation in humanitarian assistance—a conference without borders

19 May, 16 | by BMJ

sarah_venis2How strong is the evidence base underlying humanitarian medical assistance? How do you innovate safely to overcome the obstacles inherent in delivering care in conflict settings or to regions where no direct access to the population is possible, such as the besieged areas of Syria? Every year, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) attempts to answer some of these questions in a round of conferences, the MSF Scientific Days, held in London (20th May—medical research, 21st May—innovation), South Asia (28 May), and Southern Africa (9 June). These conferences, livestreamed (except Southern Africa) and free to attend and access, were watched last year by over 5200 people in 115 countries. The events are intended to catalyse debate on the state of humanitarian medical aid, to challenge MSF and other organisations to improve the quality of their work, and to ensure that discussion of humanitarian research and innovation in new models of care and technology is accessible for anyone with an internet-enabled device. more…

Leonardo Palumbo: Shorter regimens offer new hope to adults and children with MDR TB by halving treatment time

18 May, 16 | by BMJ

leo_palumboRecent treatment regimens for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) have resulted in patients enduring a gruelling two-year treatment journey, which necessitates taking up to 20 tablets every day with months of daily painful injections. The side-effects associated with the treatment results in many suffering from permanent hearing loss and some developing suicidal depression and psychosis. For those able to tolerate this miserable treatment, only around half of those suffering with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), and one quarter suffering with extensively drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) will be cured. more…

Vickie Hawkins: “Your enemy’s doctor is not your enemy. Hospitals are not targets”

29 Apr, 16 | by BMJ

Vickie Hawkins, Executive Director MSF UKLate on Wednesday night two barrel bombs fell on buildings surrounding the hospital of Al Quds hospital in Aleppo, Northern Syria. As tens of wounded were being rushed to the emergency room (ER) for treatment, a third barrel bomb fell directly at the entrance to the ER, killing and injuring staff and patients. The building was immediately reduced to rubble while surviving patients, staff, and volunteers began to search desperately for those caught in the ruins.

At least 14 people lost their lives, including two doctors, two nurses, a guard and a maintenance officer. The remaining eight were patients. more…

Estrella Lasry: A more holistic response to malaria is overdue

22 Apr, 16 | by BMJ

World Malaria Day 2016

Since the early 2000s the world has seen considerable success in the fight against malaria, with a significant decrease in overall numbers of cases and deaths. But this success is uneven: there are still contexts where the toll of malaria is worsening and seasonal spikes in patient numbers are getting higher. Teams at projects run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) saw particularly high peaks in 2012, 2014, and 2015—largely in the most difficult to reach areas of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan, but also in countries like Uganda and Mali, which have stronger health systems. more…

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