In fact, I’ve seen Doctors Without Borders (DWB to keep things simple) hundreds of times on newscasts about some famine or horrible situation somewhere in the world. But I don’t really know anything about DWB.
What exactly is DWB? Who are these doctors who often put their lives in danger to help the world’s least fortunate? Why do they do it? How do they do it?
Well, I decided to do a little research and this is what I found on the DWB Web site:
“DWB is a private nonprofit association, with an international network in 19 countries that provides services in over 70 countries. The organization’s mandate is to both provide emergency medical assistance and raise awareness for the plight of the people it assists.
DWB is often one of the first humanitarian organizations to arrive at the scene of an emergency.
Each year, DWB doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators, and other medical and non-medical professionals depart on more than 4,700 aid assignments. They work alongside more than 25,800 locally hired staff to provide medical care.
DWB has proven expertise in the field of epidemiology and is often called on to monitor, diagnose, and control outbreaks of diseases, such as cholera, meningitis, and measles.
In emergencies and their aftermath, DWB provides essential health care, rehabilitates and runs hospitals and clinics, performs surgery, battles epidemics, carries out vaccination campaigns, operates feeding centers for malnourished children, and offers mental health care. When needed, DWB also constructs wells and dispenses clean drinking water, and provides shelter materials like blankets and plastic sheeting.
Through longer-term programs, DWB treats patients with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, and HIV/AIDS, and provides medical and psychological care to marginalized groups such as street children.”
And it isn’t easy helping all those people. Volunteers for DWB face constant dangers such as kidnapping, stray bullets and mines, as well as endemic disease. I consider it amazing that a highly skilled doctor would give up money and material comfort to help others in some of the most dangerous and remote places of the world. This truly is work from the heart and a testament to the kindness of some people.
DWB survives mostly on private donations (over 80 percent of its budget) and though I’ve never donated, I think I will now. It’s the least I can do from my comfortable couch, with my dog sleeping next to me.
Yes, my dog who probably eats and lives better than most of the people Doctors Without Borders helps.