Since the creation of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) 50 years ago, our goal has been to alleviate people’s suffering and to provide medical care to those who need it most. 2021 was no exception. Despite the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, our teams carried out their work across more than 70 countries in some of the hardest-to-reach regions of the world.
While COVID-19 absorbed the attention and resources of many high-income countries, its direct and indirect effects were felt in places where health systems were already weak. We used our expertise in tackling disease epidemics to support countries struggling to deal with COVID-19, as well as other ongoing health crises.
2021 in review
Half a century since a handful of volunteers from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) took our first steps in 1971 in providing humanitarian medical assistance, over 63,000 people continued this work in 2021, providing care to people across more than 70 countries.
Few places in 2021 needed the presence of lifesaving medical workers more than Ethiopia. The ongoing conflict in the country’s northern Tigray region has resulted in widespread devastation – hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and are living in terrible conditions, cut off from food, water and medical assistance.
Confronting and addressing our responsibilities
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continues to work to ensure people across the world, in some of the most remote and excluded regions, have access to healthcare. But we must also continue to push ourselves, to self-reflect and question whether we are keeping in line with our responsibilities to the environment and on discrimination and abuse suffered at the hands of our organisation by staff, patients and communities.
In 2020, we recognised and acknowledged that, despite years of raising awareness and efforts to address issues of inequities, discrimination and institutional racism, progress had not been fast enough. This led to a public commitment to tackle discrimination and racism within our organisation.