Today is National Doctor’s Day, and we would like to recognize those who have made a difference by bringing better health to communities all over the world. One particular group, Médecins Sans Frontières, has impacted the lives of millions throughout the globe and forever changed the face of international public health and humanitarian aid. A key tenet of the organization is that borders are political boundaries, and we must prioritize people’s health and rights above these boundaries.
In 1968, a series of protests broke out all over the world in response to social conflicts, and many of these protests were rebellions against military and bureaucratic elites. The Parisian protests in May of that year were some of the most significant in history. Ten million workers and students took to the streets of Paris, France, in an effort to overthrow the government of General Charles de Gaulle. Amid these upheavals, a group of young doctors came together and decided to do something about the worldwide issues of war and famine. They sought out to recreate the concept of emergency aid.
They decided to travel around the world to find and help victims of war and disease. Not only would they reinvent the idea of emergency aid, but they also succeeded in creating a new brand of humanitarianism. This group would later become known as Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders.