Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality. A worldwide movement MSF was founded in Paris, France in 1971. Its principles are described in the organization's founding charter. It is a non-profit, self-governed organization. Today, MSF is a worldwide movement of 24 associations, bound together as MSF International, based in Switzerland. Thousands of health professionals, logistical and administrative staff – most of whom are hired locally – work on programs in some 70 countries worldwide. Humanitarian action MSF's work is based on humanitarian principles. We are committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. MSF operates independently. We conduct our own evaluations on the ground to determine people’s needs. More than 90 per cent of our overall funding comes from millions of private sources, not governments. MSF is neutral. We do not take sides in armed conflicts, we provide care on the basis of need, and we push for independent access to victims of conflict as required under international humanitarian law. Bearing witness and speaking out MSF medical teams often witness violence and neglect in the course of their work, largely in regions that receive scant international attention. At times, MSF may speak out publicly in an effort to bring a forgotten crisis to public attention, to alert the public to abuses occurring beyond the headlines, to criticize the inadequacies of the aid system, or to challenge the diversion of humanitarian aid for political interests. Quality medical care MSF rejects the idea that poor people deserve third- rate medical care and strives to provide high-quality care to patients. In 1999, when MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the organization announced the money would go towards raising awareness of and fighting against neglected diseases. Through the Access Campaign, and in partnership with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, this work has helped lower the price of HIV/AIDS treatment and stimulated research and development for medicines to treat malaria and neglected diseases like sleeping sickness and kala azar. CHARTER Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a private, international association. The association is made up mainly of doctors and health sector workers and is also open to all other professions which might help in achieving its aims. All of its members agree to honor the following principles: MSF provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters, and to victims of armed conflict. They do so irrespective of race, religion, creed, or political convictions. MSF observes neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance and claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions. Members undertake to respect their professional code of ethics and maintain complete independence from all political, economic, or religious powers. As volunteers, members understand the risks and dangers of the missions they carry out and make no claim for themselves or their assigns for any form of compensation other than that which the association might be able to afford them. Our Principles MSF’s actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of independence and impartiality. Medical Ethics MSF’s actions are first and foremost medical. We carry out our work with respect for the rules of medical ethics, in particular the duty to provide care without causing harm to individuals or groups. We respect patients’ autonomy, patient confidentiality, and their right to informed consent. We treat our patients with dignity, and with respect for their cultural and religious beliefs. In accordance with these principles, MSF endeavors to provide high-quality medical care to all patients. Independence Our decision to offer assistance in any country or crisis is based on an independent assessment of people’s needs. We strive to ensure that we have the power to freely evaluate medical needs, to access populations without restriction, and to directly control the aid we provide. Our independence is facilitated by our policy to allow only a marginal portion of our funds to come from governments and intergovernmental organizations. Impartiality and Neutrality MSF offers assistance to people based on need and irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation. We give priority to those in the most serious and immediate danger. Our decisions are not based on political, economic, or religious interests. MSF does not take sides or intervene according to the demands of governments or warring parties. Bearing Witness The principles of impartiality and neutrality are not synonymous with silence. When MSF witnesses extreme acts of violence against individuals or groups, the organization may speak out publicly. We may seek to bring attention to extreme need and unacceptable suffering when access to lifesaving medical care is hindered, when medical facilities come under threat, when crises are neglected, or when the provision of aid is inadequate or abused. Accountability MSF is committed to regularly evaluating the effects of its activities. We assume the responsibility of accounting for our actions to our patients and donors.
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