Marie Mohamed, a dedicated nurse working for the esteemed humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières – Belgium (MSF-B) Sierra Leone, finds herself in a distressing situation as she battles a severe medical condition. Despite her long-standing commitment to her work, Marie feels let down by the organisation she has dedicated over a decade of service to. She is disheartened by the sluggish response from the organisation in providing the necessary financial support for her crucial surgical operation.
Marie, who says she has been working tirelessly for MSF-Belgium in Sierra Leone since 2006, suffered a severe knee injury on July 17, 2020, while on her way to work. After undergoing multiple tests and consultations with four different specialists, it was unequivocally recommended that she undergo an urgent knee replacement surgery, which
comes with a significant price tag of $7,000 to $12,000.
Adding to her hardship, Marie had injured her finger the day before the accident while attending to patients at her duty post. Her supervisor advised her to seek treatment at their Staff Health Clinic (SHC) the following day. However, on her way to the clinic she had an accident, causing a severe fracture in her left knee.
According to the MSF National Staff Healthcare Policy, the organisation commits to provide 100 percent coverage for the cost of treatment, hospitalisation, and common diagnostic
investigations available in the country.
“Uncommon diagnostic investigations like CT scans available in the country can be fully covered by MSF if prescribed by a specialist at a MSF reference centre and have been authorised by the Medical Coordinator,” the policy states.
The policy also emphasises MSF’s commitment to caring for staff during life-threatening emergency situations, including emergency surgery.
“MSF covers surgical care in case of acute surgical conditions/trauma. The selective surgeries shall be approved by the Medical Coordinator,” the policy states. However, in Marie’s case, her claim has not yet been fully addressed by the medical coordinator, Dr. Louis Vala.
Dr. Vala acknowledges that Marie has seen several specialists with the full support of MSF, and the organisation has covered the costs associated with these visits. “All medical examinations including visitations to specialists have been sponsored by MSF,” he said, but however refrains from publicly commenting on Marie’s case, citing confidentiality, medical ethics, and internal regulations.
Meanwhile, Marie says her health is badly deteriorating, and this has left her devastated, unable to continue her personal and professional life due to the crippling knee injury and debilitating pain.
This predicament has raised concerns about MSF’s alleged abandonment of one of its own
employees and brings attention to the urgent need for organisations like them to ensure
their employees receive the essential healthcare and support in life-threatening situations.
The potential consequences of an organisation neglecting the health and safety of their staff are significant, not only endangering individual lives but also damaging the organisation’s reputation. As Marie awaits a resolution, there is a growing urgency for MSF to shoulder the financial burden of her crucial surgery, demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of its employees that goes beyond mere rhetoric.