Medical emergencies

We work to help the people in greatest need, wherever they are. Our medics carry out more than eight million patient consultations a year and our medical activities run from basic vaccination campaigns to complex surgery.

Our emergency medical work extends to neglected, forgotten diseases and long-term care for chronic conditions. We also advocate for affordable, high-quality medicines for the world's poorest people.

MSF campaigns to challenge the high cost of existing medicines and the absence of treatment for many of the diseases affecting our patients.

Chagas is not as well known as diseases such as malaria or cholera yet it affects between six and seven million people and kills up to 12,500 each year.

Cholera often breaks out when there is overcrowding and inadequate access to clean water, rubbish collection and proper toilets. It causes profuse diarrhoea and vomiting which can lead to death.

COVID-19 (short for "coronavirus disease") is caused by a virus discovered in early January in China. It appears to be transmitted through droplets spread by coughing. The virus affects the respiratory system.

Ebola is one of the world’s most deadly diseases. Ebola is so infectious that patients need to be treated in isolation by staff wearing protective clothing. 

An obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and the bladder or rectum, through which urine or stool leaks continuously. More than two million women worldwide suffer this debillitating injury.

Since its discovery in 1981, HIV/AIDS has killed more than 25 million people. HIV gradually weakens the body’s immune system, leaving it vulnerable to opportunistic infections which can lead to death.

Kala azar is the second largest parasitic killer in the world - only malaria is more deadly. Along with Chagas disease and sleeping sickness, kala azar is one of the most dangerous neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Every year, malaria kills around 660,000 people and infects more than 200 million. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nine children die every minute because their diet lacks essential nutrients. A lack of food or essential nutrients causes malnutrition: children’s growth falters and their susceptibility to common diseases increases.

Many women across the world give birth without medical assistance, massively increasing the risk of complications or death.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and one of the leading causes of death among young children.

Meningococcal meningitis is a highly contagious bacterial form of meningitis – a serious inflammation of the meninges – the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

MSF offers survivors of sexual violence medical care, treatment to prevent the development of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and psychological support.

Human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, is a parasitic infection found in sub-Saharan Africa and is transmitted by the tsetse fly.

MSF provides psychosocial support to victims of trauma in an effort to reduce the likelihood of long-term psychological problems.

The Yersina pestis bacteria can be found in about 200 species of mammals that live on every continent except for Oceania. As it lives in an animal host it is virtually impossible to eradicate. A treatment is widely available that not only cures people affected with the disease, but is also used as a prophylaxis to prevent those at risk of falling ill.

Due to the ever-increasing number of man-made and natural disasters in the world, MSF has made the strategic decision to scale up its surgical work in the field.

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most deadly infectious diseases in the world. Each year, it kills 1.4 million people, with another nine million suffering from the disease, mainly in developing countries.