In 1970 a group of French doctors joined an international aid mission to help victims of Nigeria’s civil war. They were frustrated by government interference in humanitarian aid and felt they were being silenced when they wanted to tell the world about the atrocities they witnessed.
To speak out about the plight of victims, and seeking an independent, impartial way to provide care where they saw the greatest need, they joined a group of French journalists who were committed to the same principles and founded MSF in 1971.
The organisation started life as a group of medics travelling to remote corners of the world, providing medical aid to victims of wars and natural disasters. Over time the organisation grew, employing more people in the countries where it worked. Now MSF has offices in 19 countries. In 1999, in recognition of its “pioneering humanitarian work on several continents”, MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
In 1999, MSF was awarded the International Nobel Peace Prize, "in recognition of the organisation's pioneering humanitarian work on several continents." The award honoured the work of MSF relief workers bringing medical assistance to people in more than 80 countries — over 20 of which are in conflict. The 1999 Nobel Lecture, MSF's acceptance speech, was delivered in Oslo, Norway, by Dr. James Orbinski , President of the MSF International Council. The ceremony was widely televised throughout the world and, for those in distant places, broadcast online at NobelChannel.com. This was the first time a Nobel speech had been broadcast over the internet.
The proceeds from the Nobel Peace Prize have been used by MSF to establish a Neglected Disease Fund. The fund is designed to support pilot projects world-wide that facilitate clinical development, production, procurement and distribution of Neglected Disease treatments.
The full transcript of the acceptance speech can be found on the official MSF Nobel Peace Prize page.