A / A / A

How to improve access to care and aid for people living with a handicap in a humanitarian context?


Benoit Finck, a documentary maker for French television (France 5, Arte, France 3), has been making films for more than 20 years for the communication of MSF.

A screening of the film Agir contre l’exclusion followed by a debate, April 7th, 2022, at MSF and online. The debate was translated simultaneously into sign language and English. The film, shown as a preview, has been cut from the video: it is available in replay on the France 5 website.

Doctor Jean Dragon, who wrote Les silencieux. Chroniques de vingt ans de médecine avec les sourds (2008),The silent. Chronicles of twenty years of humanitarian medicine with the deaf  was the first one to open, in 1995, a reception service in sign language in a hospital in Paris. At that time, in the middle of a HIV pandemic, the health authorities noticed how badly the deaf were isolated. According to Jean Dragon, “deaf people were dying from Aids because they had to call members of their family to translate during consultations. Therefore, they preferred not to see doctors. Or when they saw them and learned their diagnosis, they did not know what Aids was.”https://www.sourds.net/2011/01/10/la-langue-des-signes-veut-entrer-a-lhopital/ The exclusion from medical care because of a handicap is a phenomenon that can also be found in humanitarian assistance programs. This problem is even more worrying when we consider that around 15% of the 80 million refugees in the world suffer from a handicap.https://handicap-international.fr/fr/actualites/camps-de-refugies-n-oublions-pas-les-personnes-handicapees

Louise Limela is the Coordinator and Facilitator of the OCB association network for Médecins sans Frontières in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2020, she tried to understand to what extent the inhabitants of Kinshasa were informed about the Covid-19 pandemic. She noticed that several groups were excluded because of a lack of information: persons with reduced mobility, the visually impaired, the deaf, people with albinism, widows, and orphans. Louise Limela then started to work with local associations of people with disabilities to train “peer educators”: members of these organisations who were able to reach these persons. As a result of the success of this work and in response to the requests of the beneficiaries she extended her training activities to HIV prevention and family planning. Before the end of 2022, MSF WACA (West & Central Africa) will take over this initiative with the purpose of extending it to its programs in Ituri and North Kivu.

The documentary Agir contre l’exclusion (26 minutes, Point du Jour producer) reports Louise Limela’s work with these groups, with a strong focus on deaf people. It was screened during this CRASH conference and followed by a debate: how to improve access to care and aid for people living with a handicap in a humanitarian context?


  • Benoît Finck, the film director.

Debate, with the participation of:

  • Louise Limela, the Coordinator and Facilitator of the OCB association network in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Patrice Vastel, Coordinator of the international project on the inclusion of people with disabilities at MSF.
  • Gregory Keane, Psychiatrist and Mental Health Advisor at MSF.
  • Guillaume Le Gallais, director of the I.P.I.D.V. (Initiatives Pour l'Inclusion des Déficients Visuels),Initiatives for the inclusion of the visually impairedformer Operations Director and board member of MSF.

The documentary was broadcast on RTS (April 23th) and France 5 (L'oeil et la main documentary collection, April 25th).

To cite this content :
Benoit Finck, How to improve access to care and aid for people living with a handicap in a humanitarian context?, 7 April 2022, URL : https://msf-crash.org/index.php/en/conferences-debates/how-improve-access-care-and-aid-people-living-handicap-humanitarian-context

If you want to criticize or develop this content, you can find us on twitter or directly on our site.