Opinion

A Muse concert will help Médecins Sans Frontières deliver medical supplies to people in conflict zones

The night before Muse play a concert to raise funds for The Big Issue, they play another gig to support War Child and Médecins Sans Frontières. MSF's Vickie Hawkins explains how it will help provide vital medical care to people in conflict zones.

Muse. Image: Nick Fancher

Rock titans Muse are performing at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London on May 10 to raise money for The Big Issue – and you can win tickets here. The night before that, they are also playing to raise funds for War Child and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is a non-profit, independent and impartial humanitarian NGO, delivering vital medical treatment where it’s needed most, even inside conflict zones. 

Celebrating its 50th anniversary last year, MSF has grown from 300 volunteers to 65,000 people worldwide. It was established with the belief that all victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural or man-made disasters have the right to medical assistances quickly and efficiently irrespective of religion, race or politics.

MSF teams have been directly responding to the Covid-19 pandemic over the last two years, while ensuring treatment and demands for non-Covid-19 needs such as cholera, HIV and TB are met all over the world, while increasing their vital work in Ukraine. 

Here, Médecins Sans Frontières‘s executive director Vickie Hawkins explains the work the charity is doing to help those affected by the war in Ukraine and other conflicts.

We are absolutely delighted to be working with Muse for this very special fundraising event. MSF is an international medical humanitarian organisation that works in over 70 countries worldwide, providing vital medical care to people in conflict zones, natural disasters, and epidemics, or who have otherwise been excluded from healthcare. From emergency care to longer-term interventions, we are committed to going where the need is greatest.

As the war in Ukraine escalates, we have scaled up our presence to better respond to the deepening humanitarian crisis. From the beginning, there has been clear need for the right medical supplies to reach the right places as quickly as possible. Since February 24, we have brought more than 225 metric tonnes of medical and relief supplies into Ukraine. Much of it has been dispatched to hospitals, health centres or the Ministry of Health for onward transport to places it is most needed.

More recently, our teams began medical train referrals. On April 1 we completed the first of these, transporting nine patients who had been wounded in or near Mariupol to hospitals in Lviv using a two-carriage train kitted out as a basic hospital ward. Since then, we’ve organised three further referrals from hospitals close to the frontlines in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. A total of 114 patients, and their families, have been medically evacuated to date.

During this crisis, MSF continues to respond to other emergencies worldwide. In Afghanistan, our teams are witnessing the degradation of an already weak public health system.

The country has historically been dependent on aid, and the suspension of much international donor funding has hugely impacted the availability of care. When I visited the country a few weeks ago, I saw gravely ill children having to share emergency hospital beds due to a rise in measles and malnutrition cases and a lack of functioning health facilities.

MSF runs five medical projects across Afghanistan and although our work cannot replace desperately needed state services, it is vital for the individual Afghans who access our care. In the MSF-supported Boost provincial hospital in Lashkar Gah, roughly 60 babies are delivered in the maternity hospital every day. Boost delivers as many babies in a three-month period as London’s Kings College Hospital does on an annual basis.

MSF’s unique funding structure allows us to respond immediately during a crisis. We rarely take money from governments, and instead are largely funded by private donors.

This allows us to remain independent, releasing funds quickly without waiting for money to be released or appeals to be launched. We are extremely grateful to Muse for their support, which will help fund our work in Ukraine and other countries around the world.

Vickie Hawkins is executive director of MSF UK

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