31 Days of Giving #2 – Doctors Without Borders— Musings of an NYC Dermatologist

What’s not to love about people who, like fire fighters, rush to areas of conflict to help, while others are running away?

Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres) is a French organization founded in 1971 in response to the denial of access to medical assistance by other major charitable organizations during the Biafrian war in Nigeria. Today, with the help of volunteers, they provide care to people all over the world in areas of crisis, often at risk to their own safety. In 199 I was very proud to be working at a hospital in South Central Los Angeles, which some might have described as a war-torn area, when this organization won the Nobel Peace Prize as one of my colleagues, the director of our emergency room, was part of the Doctors Without Borders leadership.+

Exploring a career in international health was a big part of my journey to becoming a doctor. Working and studying in places like India, Thailand, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, as well as in the Mattapan neighborhood in Boston, made me have to explore the concept of “think globally and act locally.” I had to consider what and where my best contribution as a doctor would be. I had to think about what impact I wanted my life and career to have. It brought up questions of whether it really was more noble to address problems in another community versus those in my own? Who were the people working abroad really helping themselves or others? It made me take pause when I’d meet American international health workers who were not comfortable working with Black people in health crisis in the United States but who were comfortable working with Black people in Africa. As the world became more global during my career, I found that many of the skills I had acquired working abroad were also relevant at home. I never realized how political healthcare could be until I started to explore my interest in international health.

Despite all the political, personal and spiritual complexities of healthcare, helping people, whatever, and wherever the need, is the ultimate goal. It’s only natural to have much respect and love for people who run toward the fire to help, be it a burning building or a refugee camp, for no pay, and at risk to their own safety. That’s why today Aglow Dermatology shows gratitude to Doctors Without Borders. Join us! www.doctorswithoutborders.org

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