Discussion Papers

Bringing MSF into the 21st century: Medical innovation by Jen Cohn (MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines)

excerptMedical innovation offers the opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of millions globally. New tools can sometimes fundamentally change the way we practice medicine. However, new doesn’t always mean better. Identifying the gaps is only the first step. The next steps – identifying potential candidates to fill the need and weighing the costs and benefits of taking up a new advance - present a set of more complex questions. In a fast-moving field with many new products, how can MSF identify the most important new tools? What are the characteristics that make a tool worthwhile for MSF? How can we make sure critical tools are accessible to our clinicians and patients? (you can read the rest here...)

Bringing MSF into the 21st century: Humanitarianism is dead, long live humanitarianism! by Jonathan Whittall (MSF), contributions by Meinie Nicolai (OCB)

excerpt: Global power dynamics are shifting. American power is in decline and other powers – including China and India - are rising, or in some cases re-emerging. Since the end of the Cold War, the existence of the US as the dominant power has been paralleled with a growth in the humanitarian aid system. The influence of US power stretched far and wide with market capitalism fuelling globalisation. During this period, humanitarianism has taken on more than just a western identity through human and financial resources and become totally interlinked with western power and foreign engagement. (you can read the rest here...)

Bringing MSF into the 21st century: Technology by Laurent Bonnardot (MSF) & Richard Wootton (MSF)

excerpt: When practising in isolated and resource-limited settings, it can often be very valuable to obtain an expert second opinion about a difficult clinical problem. Imagine being able to obtain, within a few hours1, valuable clinical advice for your patient from an expert. New technology makes this possible now, yet few doctors take advantage of this at present. (you can read the rest here...)

excerpt: Technology is changing the world we live in at a dizzying pace, bringing people closer than ever before. Mobile phones have penetrated every corner of the world, satellites in the sky help map our way as we drive, we can increasingly share our news, thoughts, pictures, even our money, from small computers in our pockets. (you can read the rest here...)

Bringing MSF into the 21st century: Evolve or die: an MSF field doctor’s perspective by Raghu Venugopal (MSF Canada)

excerpt: Evolve or die. This dictum holds true for MSF. If we do not change the way we deliver medicine, our patients will suffer. To be a medical professional, we profess to give to our patients the best care possible. Does this include adapting new evidence and technologies into our work? Does everyone in MSF share this view – or do some feel they already know enough to do their job? In reality, field medicine is an evolving art and science and MSF has innovated to the benefit of our patients in the past. The combination treatment MSF developed for sleeping sickness is one example – reducing painful injections of eflornithine from 48 to 14. MSF however, still needs medics and leaders hungry to provide the best experience-based and evidence-based medical care to those disadvantaged and facing crisis. (you can read the rest here...)

Bringing MSF into the 21st Century: Do our western roots as an organisation help or hinder our entry into the 21st century? by Steve Cornish (MSF Canada)

excerpt: In post-World War II Europe, MSF’s ‘Dunantist’ but non-conformist doctors brought their medical care to others under the flag of ‘Sans Frontièrisme’ and eventually with a ‘droit d’ingérence’. Where states failed their citizens, MSFers entered delivering life-saving aid and offering to bear witness. These values were upheld as ‘universal’, and it would take years (and the perceptions project) before MSF took stock of how these values were translated into different cultures, to see how others actually saw MSF and its aid. As MSFers, these are our pioneering and, yes, western roots. Let’s look at the internal and external challenges now facing MSF to see how these roots affect MSF’s entry into the 21st century. (you can read the rest here...)

By: Rebecca Cederholm