Research and reflection centres

DNDiDrugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and Epicentre

As well as delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from health care, MSF is also involved in medical research and reflection. This helps us improve the effectiveness and quality of the medical care we deliver, and provides us with the tools to convince others to take action or change their treatment protocols. MSF research addresses urgent medical and humanitarian issues and topics include treatment of tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases.

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Manson Unit

Established in 2003, the Manson Unit is based in the UK and is a team of medical doctors, a laboratory specialist, epidemiologists, a GIS (geographical information systems) officer and a medical editor. The unit identifies developments in the management of medical issues such as tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS, malaria and outbreaks of infectious diseases and environmental contamination, and helps put changes into practice, monitors the implementation of these changes and documents lessons learned from the experience.

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SAMU (Southern Africa Medical Unit)

SAMU is part of the Belgium Operational Centre’s medical department and the medical division of MSF South Africa. Its mission is to provide medical technical and implementation support to various MSF projects running medical activities related to HIV and TB.

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BRAMU (Brazilian Medical Unit)

The Brazilian Medical Unit was established in 2007 to work with renowned Brazilian academic and scientific institutions, laboratories and qualified researchers. It specialises in neglected tropical diseases such as dengue and Chagas, and also works on other infectious diseases and is involved in medical anthropology. BRAMU provides technical support to a number of MSF projects, and contributes to scientific studies, research and training. The Unit works closely with the Operational centres in Switzerland and Spain.

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LuxOr (Luxembourg Operational Research)

LuxOR is an MSF team linked with the Belgium Operational Centre and is dedicated to operational research and skills development. Its main objectives are to conduct and support operational research studies, coordinate operational research training and support the development and implementation of medical data collection tools.

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The Centre de Réflexion sur l'Action et les Savoirs Humanitaires (CRASH) was created by MSF in 1999. It inspires debate and reflection on MSF’s field practices and public positioning, and the CRASH team conducts and direct studies and analysis of MSF actions and participates in internal training sessions and assessment missions in the field. Its objective is to contribute to debate on the challenges, constraints and limits –as well as the subsequent dilemmas – of humanitarian action.

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UREPH (L’Unité de Recherche sur les Enjeux et Pratiques Humanitaires)

The Research Unit on Humanitarian Issues and Practices was established in 2006 and is currently made up of eight people. It works closely with the Swiss Operational Centre, other MSF research centres, and universities and NGOs. UREPH’s objectives are to improve the way MSF projects are implemented on the ground and to engage in critical reflection on humanitarian and medical action (on problems encountered at project level and also on broader issues concerning current humanitarian action), notably by producing publications and organising conferences and debates.

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Centre for Applied Reflection on Humanitarian Practice (ARHP)

The Centre for Applied Reflection on Humanitarian Practice (ARHP) documents and reflects upon the operational challenges and dilemmas faced by the field teams of the MSF Operational Centre Barcelona (MSF OCBA). ARHP’s purpose is two-fold: internally we aim to feed identified lessons learned back into operations as well as to support advocacy efforts, while externally we seek to give visibility to practical and operational constraints in humanitarian practice and, when relevant, how MSF has addressed them.

This website is intended both to serve as a container of the work produced and to facilitate debate and feedback. General comments and questions can be channelled through the “contact” section whilst each document has a dedicated comments thread.


Analysis Department

In 2017, the MSF Operational Centre based in Brussels created the Analysis department with the objective of supporting  and challenging field operations in analysis, advocacy and networking. The department also produces critical analysis on the politics of health and humanitarianism based on MSF experience and challenges. The MSF Analysis website is intended to stimulate reflection and debate on humanitarian topics organised around the themes of migration, refugees, aid access, health policy and the environment in which aid operates. While the views expressed on the website do not necessarily reflect the official position of MSF, they are based on analysis derived from the organisation’s experience working in over 70 countries worldwide.

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