Every year, hundreds of Canadians work overseas with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), delivering front-line medical care in most of the nearly 70 countries around the world where MSF carries out lifesaving emergency healthcare programs.
Name: Fabien Dehors
Hometown in Canada: Originally from Normandy in France, I moved to Vancouver in 2011 and never looked back.
Role/position with MSF: Project Coordinator (PC)
Where was your most recent posting, and what work is MSF doing there?
My most recent posting was in Shamwana in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Shamwana is located 600 kilometres north of Lubumbashi in Katanga, in eastern DRC — in the so-called “Death Triangle.” My role was to lead the closure of the 10-year project. It was my first PC mission; quite a challenge, but the team did a fantastic job.
MSF was running seven health centres and one hospital in collaboration with the Congolese ministry of health. The hospital was dealing with all the critical cases that the health centres could not handle, and had several departments: maternity, intensive care, inpatients, outpatients, an operating theatre, a lab, internal medicine, a therapeutic feeding centre, pediatrics. The health centres were in the surroundings areas, and provided basic health care.
What impact did you see MSF having?
MSF had a massive impact in the community. MSF was the only organization present in the region, and the only reliable source of quality medical-care services. Over 10 years, MSF provided 615,000 consultations and treated 255,000 people for malaria.
Please share one detail from your most recent posting that made an impression on you:
The decision to close a project is never an easy one. I was really impressed with the dedication of our teams in the project even after the decision was given. The team powered through and even pushed to get new activities done as a gesture to the community. Indeed, we ran a VVF camp — in which a specialist surgeon performed operations to help women suffering from vesico-vaginal fistulas, a painful and difficult complication that results from complications in childbirth, easily preventable and treatable in places with advanced medical services but a cause of significant suffering in places with little access to healthcare — in which 36 patients received life-changing treatment.
What was your background before joining MSF?
I worked as a project manager in the tech industry. In many ways it’s a lot different from what MSF is, but it also helped me to be fully comfortable in the PC role within MSF.