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Transport: MSF on the move
Every day – on land, on sea and in the air – MSF uses different modes of transport to ensure that supplies, equipment and medical staff are where they are needed.
It’s complex, challenging and often dangerous work, in some of the world’s most extreme and remote environments. Here's how we get around.
The iconic MSF Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series is the backbone of every MSF mission.
Rugged and dependable, MSF operates more than 800 of these go-anywhere vehicles across the globe. Many have been customised to function as top-of-the-range ambulances, while others are used to transport people, goods and equipment.
Some terrain is too tough even for 4x4s. In Democratic Republic of Congo, MSF runs mobile clinics by motorbike.
Known as the ‘bikers without borders’, these brave riders provide a lifeline to tens of thousands of people who would otherwise be deprived of healthcare, in a country which has less than one hospital bed per 1,000 inhabitants and fewer than two doctors per 10,000 people.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster or in the middle of a conflict, roads are often destroyed or dangerous.
We use cargo planes to quickly transport large quantities of medical supplies and aid to where they are needed, and we use light aircraft to help our teams reach the most remote communities, and to transfer patients to hospital.
As well as carrying goods, MSF uses converted trucks as mobile clinics and laboratories. In Uganda and Zimbabwe, staff in MSF’s mobile HIV units are able to diagnose patients within 15 minutes and start them on treatment on the spot.
In a world where more than half the 35 million people with HIV are unaware they are carrying the virus, these mobile clinics help prevent people from getting sick, and reduce the chances of them infecting others.
Boats and ships
Boats and ships of all kinds are vital to the work that MSF does, whether rescuing refugees from the Mediterranean using a 66-metre off shore supply vessel (Aquarius), or delivering vital supplies such as shelter materials, hygiene kits, cooking utensils, blankets and mosquito nets to islands in the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
In Papua New Guinea, MSF is running an innovative Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programme to help fight tuberculosis (TB). MSF teams travel to isolated villages to collect sputum samples, which are then flown back by UAV for testing.
In the future, we hope that the UAVs will also be used to transport anti-TB medicines back to the patient.
In areas such as the Sidama hills of Ethiopia and parts of Colombia, horses and ponies provide the easiest way of travelling through diffi cult jungle terrain to reach isolated communities and people cut off from healthcare.
In many parts of the world where MSF works, large inland rivers operate like modern highways and the canoe is comparable to the car.
These canoes range in style from fast and sleek motorised canoes to traditional wooden dugouts.
When the mountain is too high or the terrain too rough, or when there are no cars, trucks, boats or planes to hand, sometimes the only option is to go by foot.
Each year, MSF teams walk millions of miles to provide healthcare to people in desperate need.