Book cover of Medical Innovations in Humanitarian Situations
Jean-Hervé Bradol

Medical doctor, specialized in tropical medicine, emergency medicine and epidemiology. In 1989 he went on mission with Médecins sans Frontières for the first time, and undertook long-term missions in Uganda, Somalia and Thailand. He returned to the Paris headquarters in 1994 as a programs director. Between 1996 and 1998, he served as the director of communications, and later as director of operations until May 2000 when he was elected president of the French section of Médecins sans Frontières. He was re-elected in May 2003 and in May 2006. From 2000 to 2008, he was a member of the International Council of MSF and a member of the Board of MSF USA. He is the co-editor of "Medical innovations in humanitarian situations" (MSF, 2009) and Humanitarian Aid, Genocide and Mass Killings: Médecins Sans Frontiéres, The Rwandan Experience, 1982–97 (Manchester University Press, 2017).

Introduction: Medical Innovations in Humanitarian Situations

The urgency and constraints inherent in certain disasters force Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to take risks or otherwise be resigned to great suffering, disability, and avoidable death. While abandoning ineffective habits and official protocols may lead to the provision of less effective care, cause harm, and squander resources, failing to take the initiative means accepting a critical medical situation.

The authors of this book describe and analyze the emergence of new medical practices in humanitarian situations: in other words, how can we create a momentum for change benefiting affected populations? Taking advantage of lessons learned can help us better understand how to operate in specific settings, with the goal of replacing the non-therapeutic practices that doctors and political decision-makers too often tolerate, citing the poverty and ignorance of affected populations or under the pretext of complying with international recommendations, economic constraints, and public authorities.

This book is a group effort rather than a collection of articles written by experts working independently. The authors are seven doctors, a pharmacist, and three sociologists. They based their work on a review of MSF archives and publications, along with interviews with former and current managers who were or are involved in the process of bringing medical innovation to humanitarian settings.