© Gwenn Dubourthoumieu
03 Jul 17 01 Dec 17

MSF Scientific Days: 2017 snapshot

Over 7,000 people from 112 countries participated in the MSF Scientific Days 2017. Events were hosted in London, UK, New Delhi, India, and Blantyre, Malawi, presenting research and innovations related to the delivery of care in MSF field programmes. 

Another 40,000 people watched Facebook live videos of researchers presenting work on a nursing evaluation and explaining work on designing an IV fluid bag holder for MSF vehicles.

Explore videos, presentations, and posters as well as the social media commentary, news articles and blogs on the research and innovations presented from MSF’s medical humanitarian programmes here:  

Key messages and highlights from the MSF Scientific Days

London - Research

Community engagement – Jemilah Mahmood challenged MSF to do better community engagement and this theme came up repeatedly.

Do we know how MSF interventions are experienced by patients and by health workers? Can we implement active engagement, co-developing priorities and solutions from the start of programmes?

Information for action – The importance of ensuring we have the information we need at each stage of our interventions was a common theme.

From getting population counts at assessment to help direct programmes, to including coverage and accessibility in programme monitoring and evaluation to make sure vulnerable groups can access them, as well as information to help better use scarce resources.

And most profoundly, do we really understand the reality of the populations that we are trying to assist?

Information for advocacy and policy change – The finding that for 68 percent of Syrian refugees in Jordan, cost was the main barrier to accessing care for non-communicable diseases is a powerful advocacy tool, while studies on heat-stable rotavirus vaccine, shorter MDR-TB treatment, and treatment for Kaposi’s sarcoma were involved in changing policies on treatment and prevention programmes.

Winning poster

Congratulations to Jovana Arsenijević and colleagues, the winners of the MSF Scientific Days Poster Prize for their work on the violence experienced by refugees and migrants as they travel across Europe.

This was the winning poster at the screening in Monash University, Melbourne:


London – Innovation

Aspirations, ethics, and maintenance: Three challenges raised in the keynote speech by Peter Redfield.

Aspirations – Do our innovations address deep, underlying issues? Peter noted that early innovations such as the MSF kit system were more ambitious in scale than many high-tech innovations focused on smaller problems.

Ethics – Can we practise lived as well as procedural ethics? How do we ensure that ethics in innovation guide projects from conception to implementation rather than just being an initial hurdle to jump?

Maintenance – do we think beyond innovations to how they will be used and maintained by communities?

Defining problems and needs – a key issue was the need to better define the problem we are trying to solve and the needs we are trying to meet, before rushing to solutions, and to involve diverse stakeholders.

South Asia

Climate change – We have left the time of climate change mitigation and are in the era of climate change adap-tation. The focus must change from management of carbon to water. 

This has clear relevance for MSF and other health actors. We need to anticipate and recognise the health challenges driven by climate change including famine, drought, and infectious disease transmission particularly in Asia where population density and poverty converge.

Antimicrobial resistance (including TB and malaria) – MSF needs to focus on changing practice at the healthcare worker and community level, in addition to a top-down approach, to tackle antibiotic resistance. 

As we have seen in TB, good preventative practice starts at the grassroots drug resistant (DR)-TB stage, not at extremely drug resistant (XDR)-TB.

MDR-TB – When it comes to DR-TB, a patient-centred approach is essential. To better support patients and communities, it is necessary to go beyond the “treatment and cure” narrative.

We also need new drugs - in shorter, safer and more efficient regimens.

Southern Africa

Key and vulnerable populations – HIV programming needs to refocus on reaching and meeting the needs of vulnerable groups; services need adapting for adolescents living with HIV in particular.

Advanced HIV disease: greater advocacy is needed to ensure the programming and funding support needed to provide quality care to the sickest patients.

The 2017 programmes for each of the conference events are accessible below

sign up for scientific days emails