The emergency created by super Typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines in November 2013 allowed MSF-Hong Kong to make a very significant direct contribution towards operational support. Our proximity to the affected area, the local contacts and knowledge of the Philippines’ healthcare and disaster response systems, as well as the fast mobilization of different departments to support operations, meant that MSF-Hong Kong was at the leading edge of the medical response.
The Emergency Response Support Unit (ERSU) had been monitoring the typhoon and updating the operational centres in Europe days before it made landfall. MSF-Hong Kong staff made up the first MSF team arriving Cebu to set the groundwork for the massive response. A total of 38 field workers from the Philippines and the region were deployed by the Hong Kong office for this emergency. Thanks to the generous donations of people in Hong Kong and in the region, a total of more than HK$10 million were given within one month to support MSF’s relief work in the Philippines.
In the Asian region, ERSU and the Programme Development Unit of MSF-Hong Kong are now linked with the Regional Humanitarian Representative of the MSF International Office to form the Operational Support Team. This aims to strengthen support to MSF operations through defining and implementing strategic humanitarian and medical diplomacy towards ASEAN and key state and non-state stakeholders in East and Southeast Asia.
To support the operations worldwide, a total of 147 mission departures were carried out by MSF-Hong Kong in 2013. Among them, 27 were first missioners and 32 were deployed in the capacity of coordinating or medical team leader positions. 36 new professionals were also recruited from the region during the year. The 6th annual surgical training was also successfully held in Hong Kong with participants from all over the world.
In 2013, continuous fighting in Syria, escalating conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, amid other ongoing medical humanitarian crises, stretched MSF’s capacity to the limit. Thanks to generous support from the public, the private donations from individuals help MSF to have financially independence and access to many politically charged areas. Hong Kong made a significant contribution towards that overall effort. Throughout the year, over HK$290 million was raised, of which over 99% came from private sources.
Through effective solicitation channels such as street fundraising, multi-media fundraising advertisements and direct mailings, around 17,000 new “MSF Field Partners” who were committed to supporting MSF via monthly donations were recruited in 2013. Regular donations from the public help provide MSF with a stable and sustainable income, so that our teams can respond to emergencies rapidly.
The public also showed their support by joining MSF’s public events. The 12th MSF Orienteering Competition was held in Sha Tau Kok on 10 March. More than HK$4.8 million was raised by 3,000 participants and their sponsors to support MSF's worldwide work. A simulation of medical action in armed conflict settings was set up in the event centre to give participants a glimpse of life-saving work on the front line and a better understanding of the plight of conflict victims.
Another annual fundraising event, MSF Day, was held on 7 July. The Honorary Campaign Leader, Mr. Eason Chan, called on the public's support to volunteer for MSF by giving a day's income. More than HK$3.7 million was raised through the campaign.
MSF-Hong Kong’s online platform was enhanced with a multi-currency capability, and a “Fundraise for MSF” feature was launched so that our supporters can easily raise funds online by initiating their own events.
MSF continued developing its engagement with mainland China. The Hong Kong office and its Beijing representative conducted meetings with authorities in Beijing and embassies of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam based in China to exchange views on health-related aid to Africa and Asia, as well as medical and humanitarian issues. We also facilitated the field team to exchange views with Chinese embassy officials in Lebanon. Contacts with academics in the mainland China were strengthened. Mr. Jérôme Oberreit, Secretary General of MSF, was invited by Tsinghua University to give a speech on the theme “Medical Care Under Fire”. Ms. Katrien Coppens, Delegate Director of MSF-Holland, shared MSF’s concepts of humanitarian principles and its challenges in practice in the China University of Political Science and Law.
The Medical Representative team was established in China in 2013 to enhance medical information exchange with Chinese stakeholders. It had exchanges with what is the world’s only manufacturer of vaccine and diagnostic tests for hepatitis E. The Representative also attended the Ministerial Forum of China-Africa Health Development and HOSPEQ, the hospital-medical trade fair in Beijing. Dr. Unni Karunakara, the then International President of MSF, was invited to give a speech on “vaccine adaptation” in the 2013 China Health Forum, organised by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
As part of its efforts to deepen the public’s understanding of the challenges of delivering humanitarian aid in armed conflicts, MSF screened the documentary Access to the Danger Zone, together with field worker sharing and the MSF exhibition Humanitarian Aid Without Borders in Beijing and Guangzhou.
MSF field workers were also invited to share their experience in the talk show Philanthropy in China, produced by Phoenix Television. The MSF documentary The Positive Ladies Soccer Club was awarded “Jury Prize” in the 2013 One Foundation Video Festival.
The Hong Kong office also continued its effort to engage with neighbouring societies in the region. MSF’s first public event in Malaysia, “Behind the Scenes: The Journey of Doctors Without Borders”, was held in Kuala Lumpur in June.