The work begins

In 1979, after a disagreement over how best to help the Vietnamese boat refugees stranded in the South China Sea (pictured), a group of 15 doctors led by Bernard Kouchner split from Médecins Sans Frontiers.

On 1 February 1980, Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde) was formally established with the aims "to go where others will not, to testify to the intolerable, and to volunteer".

The first doctors were sent to conflict regions in Afghanistan, El Salvador and Armenia to run vaccination programmes, train local nurses and doctors and provide medical care in refugee camps.

In 1986, the first clinic in France opened its doors to migrants excluded from mainstream health services. The following year Doctors of the World set up the first free and anonymous HIV testing centre in Paris.

An international network

The Médecins du Monde international network was born in 1989 when an office was opened in Spain. The network underwent a major expansion in the 1990s, launching programmes in more than 50 countries and opening 15 chapters across four continents.

In 1998, Doctors of the World UK became a registered charity in England and Wales and began contributing to the organisation’s international work. We supported projects in the Middle East and Mali and set up a clinic in Bethnal Green, London, in 2006 to provide information and medical assistance to people excluded from NHS healthcare. In 2015, a second clinic was opened in Brighton following the arrival of many Syrian refugees in the city.

Today

Doctors of the World UK continues to support over 350 projects operating in more than 80 countries.

We’ve provided essential healthcare to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Syria. After the Ebola crisis gripped west Africa in 2014, we helped run a treatment centre in Moyamba, Sierra Leone and we're developing long-term ways to rebuild the country's shattered health system.

Since 2015, we've worked extensively with refugees in France and Greece, running both static and mobile clinics in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesbos, Chios, Athens and many other places to meet the healthcare needs of the thousands travelling through Europe.

We also have two mobile health teams in Ukraine’s government-controlled areas, as well as a team that carries out capacity-building for national staff so they have the skills they need in the long term. In non-government controlled areas, we facilitate donations of drugs, consumables and equipment to hospitals and health centres.

In Kenya, our emergency drought-response programme conducts four outreach sessions every week in two northern counties, Isiolo and Marsabit