The Other Side of Medicine
I was hesitant at first to join the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) volunteer group here at McGill. I thought that I would be committing myself to an organisation whose humanitarian actions were solely medical-related and never crossed over to topics of injustice and human rights violations, which as many people do not realise is just as crucial, if not more, than needles and bandages. It is an honourable thing to save lives, but it is a crime to do it with indifference. With aspirations of becoming a doctor myself, I was not ready to promote healing with a mouth shut.
Luckily, I soon found out that in addition to providing medical assistance, MSF's main missions are to raise awareness by speaking out, either in private or in public, as witnesses of the plights suffered by populations around the world. As the world's most important independent medical relief organisation, MSF provides assistance in more than 85 countries, in the wake of armed conflicts, civil war, epidemics, chronic refugees situations, natural disasters and famines, while launching awareness campaigns and publicly denouncing acts that violate humanitarian laws. In fact, it is one of the first non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to have combined medicine with activism. Another important feature is its complete independence from all political, religious and economic influences.
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