"Humanitarianism is not a tool to end war or create peace. It is a citizen's response to political failure."

Dr James OrbinskiThen President of MSF International, collecting Nobel Peace Prize

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is a worldwide movement. We are owned and run by our staff, past and present. Collectively, they make sure that MSF stays true to its mission and principles.

Our donors are a vital part of the movement - your generosity and support helps fund everything we do, with 90 percent of our income coming from individual donations. This allows us to stay independent, neutral and impartial - and to access those in greatest need quickly.

We have helped millions of people since MSF was established in 1971. The movement has grown and we now work in over 60 countries around the world, with teams ready for any new emergency.

MSF Associations

Our staff 'own' and manage MSF through the MSF Associations. There are 24 Associations around the world. Most have an office that fundraises and recruits staff, like MSF UK.

Each association is attached to one of the five operational centres (OC). These are the offices which decide when, where and what medical care is needed. These centres are based in:

  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Paris, France
  • Amsterdam, Holland
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Geneva, Switzerland.

The OCs can act independently but all layers of MSF interconnect and work together in various ways, and are formally bound as one movement by a shared name, a shared commitment to the MSF Charter and principles, and shared membership of MSF International.

MSF sections

MSF UK, like the other 18 MSF offices across the globe, work with these OCs to recruit staff and raise the money needed to provide care where it is needed most. They also provide specialist technical support and  speak out about on behalf of the people we are helping.

These offices are in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US. MSF has recently also establishing itself in Ireland, South Africa, India and Brazil.

MSF has four other main offices:

  • The International Office in Geneva
  • UN Liason Office in Geneva
  • UN Liason Office in New York City
  • An office in the United Arab Emirates

Three specialised public-health centres - called Epicentre, Aedes and HealthNet - work with MSF to help expand expertise in specialist medical issues. 

Other units, including supply centres and medical units, also support our activities on the frontline.

Other MSF projects

MSF Access Campaign

In the field, MSF doctors are constantly frustrated by the lack of adequate medical tools.

In response, we set up the MSF Access Campaign in 1999 to push for access to, and the development of, life-saving and life prolonging medicines, diagnostic tests and vaccines for patients in our programmes and beyond.

We set this project up with the prize money from the Nobel Peace Prize, which MSF was awarded in 1999.

MSF field research

MSF is well known for its humanitarian medical work, but it has also produced important research based on its field experience with vulnerable populations.

The UK office has a specialist research team, called the Manson Unit, which constantly analyses and refines our responses to specific diseases. We also run annual Scientific Day events to showcase our research.

This website archives MSF's scientific articles and makes them available free, with full text, and in an easily searchable format.


For 30 years, MSF has directly witnessed the human cost of the lack of drugs for neglected diseases and has raised its voice against this inequity.

In 2003, seven organisations from around the world joined forces to establish the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).

International office

The International office in Geneva is the focal point for the other MSF offices and is where important joint decisions are made.

Our International President is Dr Joanne Liu. Her time with MSF started in 1996, when she worked with Malian refugees in Mauritania.

She is an associate professor at the Université de Montréal and has also taught at Fudan University in Shanghai. In 2013, Dr Liu received the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s Teasdale-Corti Humanitarian Award.

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