A Prescription for the 3rd World


The majority of the research and readings that we have done for this class have been about non-inspiring companies. These types of companies exploit the system and seem to find every possible loophole to increase their profits. So when prompted to look into an organization for this blog post, I decided to choose from the opposite side of the spectrum.

One of the first organizations that came to mind was Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, is an international medical humanitarian organization that was created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. They provide independent and impartial assistance to more than 60 countries threatened by “violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.” Their timeline has been very impressive. Since the 70’s, they have helped in Cambodia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Somalia, Liberia, Rwanda, and various countries in Central America.  In 1999, they were recognized for their actions and added the Nobel Peace Prize to their resume.

Having taken African Economic Development in the spring of last year, I was able to learn just how bad things are in third world countries. Unfortunately, most of the long term detrimental effects were caused by developed countries like the U.S. and a handful from Europe.  But it is organizations like this that operate independently of any military, political, or religious affiliation that can help to regain hope.  MSF is capable of all of this humanitarian action because 90% of its funding comes from private, non-governmental sources. In my first paper, I spent time reflecting on Nike’s rise, fall, and rebranding, and how poor ethical standards plagued the company. Thus I think that it could be a valuable experience to delve deeper into the history and background of MSF and uncover the positive (or negative) effects that their medical ethics and impartiality have had on these neglected regions.

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3 responses to “A Prescription for the 3rd World

  1. I like the fact that your looking in the non profit sector for this assignment, I was examining Teach For America in my post for a similar reason. I think this would be really interesting to learn about due to the controversy surrounding medical tourism. There are a lot of foreign aid programs now, (particularly missionary groups) that provide unsustainable medical support that harms the community more than helping it by causing a distrust in non-western medicine (which is often all thats available after the volunteers leave), not properly teaching the use of medicine (ie. how many eye drops to use, that taking two antibiotics isn’t twice as strong), and not providing sustained care (who are these people going to see when the doctors leave). All these criticisms have led many to believe we should put more money into building permanent medical infrastructure in the third world, and and work to prevent the medical brain drain that occurs throughout Africa (doctors leaving to work abroad), instead of patching up their injuries intermittently with touring doctors.

    This being said, I think Doctors Without Boarders is one of the organizations that is doing this right. I just bring this up because I think it would be interesting to learn more about them in this context, so we can really see if they should be emulated, or chastised.

  2. Kyle’s comment about sustainability of the help these organizations offer made me think of Maggie Doyne, someone I remember from my hometown who actually won the DoSomething.org top prize a couple of years ago. Her story and plan for the Kopila Valley Children’s Home & School is just something that you might find cool & potentially relevant for your papers — I thought on an abstract level it was an interesting mix of Doctors without Borders and Teach for America. http://www.dosomething.org/about/press/fastcompanycom-3
    http://blinknow.org/

  3. How does their financing affect their ability to be effective, do you think? Didn’t Medicins Sans Frontiers win the Nobel peace prize once? That often comes with resources at the Nobel site that may be useful.

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