Médecins du Monde / Doctors of the World is an international Non – Governmental, independent, humanitarian organization, which was founded in 1980 by 15 French doctors that believed in bearing witness and providing direct access to medical care for the world’s most vulnerable populations.
The first and foremost mission of Médecins du Monde is to provide treatment. Actions though are not limited to medical care:
Αlways based on its medical experience and acting independently, MdM is vocal against the obstruction of access to healthcare and the violation of human rights and dignity. Firm supporters of human rights, they are against racism, xenophobia and the social isolation and marginalization of social groups.
These are the principles underlying the establishment of the organization «Médecins du Monde» which later began to spread in other countries (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA), creating an international network of Humanitarian Relief organizations dedicated to provide medical care to populations while fighting for equal access to healthcare worldwide.
MdM has become today an integral and important part of the international network of Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations.
Laying the foundation
In 1978, in the South China Sea, a boat was drifting off course with 2,564 Vietnamese refugees on board with no clear destination. A team of doctors, intellectuals, and journalists set off on a hospital ship, the Île de lumière, to provide medical assistance and to bear witness to the boat people’s plight. On February 1st, 1980, Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) was born, aiming “to go where others will not, to testify to the intolerable, and volunteer.”
To quote one of MdM’s founding doctors, the organisation was to, above all else, “create a structure able to address emergencies in the shortest possible time frame, something which is not always feasible for international institutions.” After MdM France, the following chapter that was created was MdM USA, in 1987, with Jonathan Mann (former head of the World Health Organization’s global AIDS programme). Over the following decade, many delegations were created, such as MdM ES, MdM GR, MdM SE, and MdM CH.
At the turn of the century, MdM created the following representation offices with the purpose to raise funds, recruit staff and relay communications: MdM CA, MdM AR, MdM BE, MdM PT (1996- 2005), MdM NL, MdM UK, MdM DE, and MdM JP (2006-2015).
During an MdM International Network meeting, members decided to create a distinction between Delegations (who have the right to vote) and Representation Offices (who do not have the right to vote). Acting upon the strong desire of several representation offices to become independent, the International Network decided to encourage these offices to implement domestic programmes and become financially independent. Institutions previously labelled as Representation Offices became Delegations as early as 1999.
Médecins du Monde’s logo was designed in November 1987 by Richard Rossin. The dove symbolises peace and medical care. The branch represents the five continents and the blue represents their natural links, which are the sky and the sea. The dove symbolically transcends borders and is drawn in a circle, which represents the world.