A documentary highlighting the impressive work done by the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders organisation was shown to appreciative audiences on the Medical School and Pietermaritzburg campuses recently.

MSF is an international medical humanitarian organisation created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. Every year, MSF provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in more than 60 countries around the world.

The organisation provides assistance when catastrophic events such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, or natural disasters overwhelm local health systems. MSF also assists people who face discrimination or neglect from their local health systems or when populations are excluded from health care.

The documentary titled: “Access to the Danger Zone” shows places the world has given up on - ‘conflict zones where people desperately need care and assistance’.

The documentary illustrates that in every conflict area guaranteeing access to care is crucial. The directors of the documentary said: ‘In the chaos, it is the wounded and sick struggling to survive who need help.’

The screening was part of an MSF tour around South Africa.

Mr Brett Sandler of MSF said the organisation had a rich history with South Africa, primarily in providing antiretroviral treatment for HIV positive people living in Cape Town.

Sandler said UKZN was a “fantastic” academic institution and an obvious venue to screen the documentary. ‘We thought it was very important to include staff and students.’

Sandler said they wanted UKZN to partner with them in a successful global network of student societies in universities known as Friends of MSF (FoMSF or Friends).

‘Students are the most excited and intrigued by the work we do. We would like to present more screenings like these for student societies.’

Members of the audience said it was “mind-blowing” to learn about the challenges of delivering healthcare in conflict areas around the world. ‘It’s interesting to see how MSF works with vulnerable populations and the impact their work has on their lives. The work they do is just amazing,’ said one of the students.

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