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Doctors Without Borders, known initially as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is a non-profit international organization that was established in 1971 (“Founding of MSF,” n.d.). This association was founded by French doctors, nurses, and other volunteers who wanted to treat people unable to access health care. The core ideology of the organization was and still is that all people deserve access to medical care regardless of their race, gender, age, religion, or worldview. Furthermore, the association firmly believes that national borders should not limit people’s right to healthcare. Currently, MSF operates worldwide and has branches in many countries with paid employees and volunteers participating in various daily activities. MSF provides care to people who have suffered from and continue to be impacted by human-made and natural disasters and armed conflicts.
Mission and Vision Summary
While the mission statement of the organization is not clearly defined, the official MSF charter has the all necessary information to describe the vision and ideology of the association. MSF’s mission is to provide help to “populations in distress,” including people who become victims of disasters, wars, and other major events (“Charter,” n.d., para. 2). The values of MSF are more detailed as all its members are encouraged to adhere to the rules defined in the charter. The primary principles include impartiality – people deserve access to healthcare regardless of their beliefs and characteristics. The organization strives to provide medical assistance. Thus, all ethical principles of health care providers, namely patient’s autonomy, confidentiality, security, and dignity, are inherent to the practices of the organization.
MSF also believes in the independence of assistance as its members have full control over the services and cannot be limited by governmental restrictions or guided by third-party support (“Charter,” n.d.). Thus, the organization is focused on neutrality and transparency, bringing attention to unacceptable practices and unjust violence. The primary purpose of the organization is medical assistance. MSF’s approach is defined by such keywords as impartiality, neutrality, independence, transparency, dignity, and accountability. Thus, their values are humanistic, as the association is focused on people’s right to medical care.
The mission of MSF, while not being explicitly declared according to the principles of academic literature, is clear and transparent. Here, the most important function of the statement is to show in which situations the organization is interested the most. Moreover, the mission’s specification of impartiality distinguishes MSF from other non-profit entities (McNamara, n.d.). As Hawkins (2014) notes, a mission statement has to demonstrate the “organizational soul,” which is reflected in the MSF’s charter (p. 46). The outcomes of the organization fully reflect its statements, as MSF does precisely what it was founded to do. For example, its history of previous projects includes helping people during wars, famines, earthquakes, and epidemics. In all situations, MSF remained unbiased and assisted all parties in conflicts that required help (“Timeline,” n.d.). Therefore, MSF was able to capture its essential purpose in its statements.
The charter proposed by the organization seems to be detailed and specific, which can be considered the main strength of the mission statement. Furthermore, the values of the association are well-defined. However, some improvements can be suggested. First of all, while the purpose of the organization seems clear, the mission may be named explicitly and distinguished from the values to avoid any misunderstandings (Kariyawasam, 2013). Second, the organization focuses on the present and does not offer a vision for the future. The addition of some prospects may benefit the organization’s motivation.
Charter. (n.d.). Web.
Founding of MSF. (n.d.). Web.
Hawkins, P. H. (2014). Diversity for nonprofits: Mission drift or mission fulfillment? Journal of Diversity Management, 9(1), 41-50.
Kariyawasam, N. (2013). Distinguishing between mission and vision [Blog post]. Web.
McNamara, C. (n.d.). Basics of developing mission, vision and values statements. Web.
Timeline. (n.d.). Web.