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We Care: Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Why are you doing this campaign?

    Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is able to reach patients in isolated, insecure and difficult conflict/crisis situations partly because many people around the world know about MSF’s work, identity and principles. Because they know us and understand how we work they can trust us. These people donate to support MSF, volunteer to work with MSF and mobilise support to pressure governments and other authorities to respect and allow medical humanitarian work. Awareness and public support make MSF’s work possible.

    In South Africa, we know that many people are not yet highly aware of MSF. This campaign aims to reach out to people here and provide an opportunity for them to join the millions world-wide who stand with and support MSF to enable medical humanitarian action where it is needed.

  • 2. Why are you saying “We don’t care”?

    We know that most NGO communication in South Africa and elsewhere tend to have messages that focus on asking audience to care about their issue. The same for much of the way in which cause related marketing works on social media.

    MSF has to differentiate itself from this type of communication approach and reset the agenda in order to be heard, seen and understood. With this campaign we have found a way to focus on the principles in the MSF Charter.

    Our campaign messages aims to capture attention by highlighting the things we don’t care about – the labels, categories and designations that divide and prevent people from receiving healthcare in crisis situations. We contrasting this with the fact that we reject these barriers and borders that prevent people from receiving healthcare and reiterate that we care about overcoming these and providing help to where it is needed most.

    We want to get people’s attention, so that we can start a conversation with them, but we, as an organisation, feel very strongly about these principles, too. MSF refuses to make decisions about which patients to treat based on which side of the frontline they’re on, whether they’re from a tribe or group that is winning the war or whether they’ve crossed an international border. MSF is committed to providing healthcare to the people who need that healthcare, no matter their race, religion or political affiliation.

  • 3. If you don’t care which side someone is on or what religion they are, doesn’t that mean you’re treating terrorists?

    MSF teams treat people in need of medical assistance – regardless of who they are. No weapons are allowed inside MSF medical facilities. Beyond that, MSF will not ask a patient which side of a conflict he supports, nor will they decide whether or not to treat someone based on his/her ideology.

    “In conflicts where everyone is someone else’s terrorist, the provision of medical treatment based on need alone mitigates against the medical act becoming a dangerous extension of political and military interests.” Jonathan Whittal.

    To find out more, please visit: http://msf-analysis.org/new-treating-terrorists

  • 4. How can you say you don’t care about stopping wars?

    We are doctors without borders we provide medical care to save lives. We have never claimed for ourselves the mammoth task of stopping all wars. We are not politicians or commanders of armed forces – people who have direct influence over decisions during fighting. We cannot absolve them from this responsibility or take up their role in society. War has been with humanity for thousands of years and will always destroy lives and leave people injured/ displaced. Medical humanitarians are impartial outsiders who choose to assist people affect the violence and consequences of war and to provide them with care that is not dependent on which side of frontline / ideology they fall.

    The idea that humanitarianism exists to stop war is a misunderstanding. It fails to recognise the crucial need for humanitarian assistance and the role humanitarians play in creating a space for some humanity and dignity to be restored by providing medical care. That is part of the reason MSF is doing this campaign – to set the record straight.

    We are telling South Africans this with confidence because we don’t care about stopping wars. We don’t care about which side you fight on. And we even don’t care about the fact that you’re not an innocent victim. We are Doctors Without Borders and we care that we’re able to provide urgent life-saving medical care no matter who you are, where you are or what you have done. We care about stopping the bleeding from gunshot and blast wounds. We care about your elevated hart-rate, your blood pressure and the infection that rages in your body. We care about saving people’s lives – not how they live or what they have done.

  • 5. What do you mean when you say “we don’t care if there are no roads”?

    Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams work in many different countries and places around the world. In some of these places there are no roads. Roads get washed away in floods or damaged by earthquakes. Roads are destroyed in conflicts. Sometimes roads simply do not exist because of underdevelopment or because the country has been in crisis for so long.

    In these places, MSF teams have to make a plan to deliver equipment to hard-to-reach places. They might use planes or helicopters. They might use boats or motorbikes. In some specific cases, MSF teams might use camels or donkeys to reach isolated communities. Please visit http://www.msf.org.uk/transport-msf-on-the-move to find out more.

  • 6. I received an invitation for an event, is this the same thing?

    On September 2, MSF Southern Africa hosts an event profiling the work MSF does to respond to the health needs of People On The Move (refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers). To find out more about the event, please visit: https://www.msf.org.za/content/move.

    Responding to the needs of those who have been forced to flee their homes, whether in Europe, Africa or other parts of the world, is a significant part of MSF’s work. It’s also a good example of a situation where people are sometimes unable to receive medical humanitarian assistance because of where they come from or what culture, nationality or religion they belong to. MSF does not decide who to assist based on any of these labels or categories; MSF treats patients based on their medical needs, irrespective of where they come from. We don’t care where you come from, we care that you have medical care.

  • 7. Do you work in South Africa?

    South Africa is among the 69 countries in the world where MSF works. MSF first worked in South Africa in the 1980s, when MSF teams provided medical care for people fleeing the civil war in Mozambique but were unable to access healthcare in South Africa because of their nationality and where they were located in former Bantustans.

    From 1999, MSF worked on the HIV response in South Africa, beginning with a project in Khayelitsha to provide free healthcare to people living with HIV who had been excluded from treatment because of the South African government’s AIDS denialism and because the exorbitant price of ARV drugs at the time. In addition, there was a common belief that ARV treatment was not possible in resource-poor settings. MSF refused to accept these barriers and pushed on. Learn more here: https://www.msf.org.za/about-us/publications/books/no-valley-without-sha...

    Today, MSF continues to work on finding better ways to provide care and treatment to people living with HIV and drug-resistant TB in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape, as well as providing medical care for survivors of sexual violence in the Rustenburg area. To find out more about MSF’s projects in South Africa and Southern Africa region, please visit: https://www.msf.org.za/about-us/projects-southern-africa