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ReachHigher – Volker Lankow (Medecins sans Frontieres) with a report on field work

October 21, 2020

On October 19, 2020, the first ReachHigher event of the new academic year took place. This time the speaker was Volker Lankow with a report on his work for Medecins Sans Frontieres (aka Doctors Without Borders). His lecture primarily dealt with the work of the humanitarian organization in high-risk contexts.

Volker Lankow supervised 17 of the 18 projects in which he participated for Medecins Sans Frontieres as project manager. In the UMCH lecture series, he reported primarily on his work in an Afghan hospital. As with other projects, one of the most important aspects in Afghanistan was to gain the trust of the local people. After all, in addition to the medical work of Medecins Sans Frontieres, when deployed in conflict regions, it is necessary, among other factors, to make contact with representatives of the authorities and local leaders in order to provide important educational work. At the hospital in Afghanistan, it was also necessary to ensure that under no circumstances could weapons be brought into the building. Even police officers and soldiers had to hand in their weapons to MSF security personnel before they were allowed to enter the hospital. Even though this was not an easy task in a country that has been plagued by crisis for decades, Lankow said, the team on site still managed to do it after great effort. As a result, a general feeling of security among the staff and patients of the institution was created, building a strong basis of trust.

As always, the UMCH students had the opportunity to ask questions after the lecture in this issue of ReachHigher. Among other questions, they discussed how much work experience one must have as a doctor in order to work for Medecins Sans Frontieres, as well as the payment model of the humanitarian organization.