Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a leading non-governmental organisation for emergency medical aid. We provide independent medical relief to victims of war, disasters and epidemics in more than 80 countries around the world. We strive to provide assistance to those who need it most, regardless of ethnic origin, religion or political affiliation.

To get access to, and care for, the most vulnerable, MSF must remain scrupulously independent of governments, as well as religious and economic powers. We rely on private individuals for the majority of our funding.

In the field, we conduct our own assessments, manage projects directly and monitor the impact of our aid. We campaign locally and internationally for greater respect for humanitarian law and the right of civilians to impartial humanitarian assistance.

MSF seeks also to raise awareness of crisis situations.  All MSF volunteers are committed to acting as witness and will speak out, either in private or in public, about the plight of the people for whom MSF works. In doing so, MSF sets out to alleviate human suffering, to protect life and health and to restore and ensure respect for the human beings and their fundamental human rights.

MSF is a voluntary organization. Each year, about 2,500 experienced medical and non-medical professionals from around the world leave on field assignments where they work closely with thousands of national staff. In countries where health structures are insufficient or even non-existent, MSF works in rehabilitation of hospitals and dispensaries, vaccination programmes and water and sanitation projects. MSF also works in remote healthcare centres, slum areas and provides training of local personnel. All this is done with the objective of rebuilding health structures to acceptable levels.

Initially founded in Paris in 1971, MSF has become an international organization with support offices in 19 countries. MSF UK, which serves Great Britain and Ireland, was set up in 1993 to recruit volunteers, provide information and raise vital funds.

In 1999 MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Volunteering with MSF – Terms and Conditions

MSF is always looking to recruit qualified staff for voluntary work overseas.  However, MSF has a policy of sending expatriates out to the field only if they have expertise, which cannot be found locally.  Two-thirds of the international volunteers who work with MSF are medical and paramedical professionals, although skilled support staff are also needed.  MSF is looking to recruit people with the following professional background:

Medical doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists

Para-Medical (other health professionals)
Nurses, midwives, biomedical scientists, nutritionists, epidemiologists, mental health professionals.

Logistical Support Staff / Technical Experts
Water and sanitation engineers, construction engineers, logisticians with proven working knowledge of:  pumps and generators; vehicle mechanics; radio/communication equipment; simple water and sanitation systems; construction; basic bookkeeping.

Financial controllers with bookkeeping/accountancy background and previous overseas experience.


Details of the specific requirements and job profiles for each profession are available upon request.

General Criteria

There is no upper age limit to working with MSF but volunteers must have some experience in living or travelling in developing countries and be in good health.  All applicants should have at least 2 years of professional experience.  All medical personnel must also have NMC/GMC registration or equivalent.

The following attributes are also required:

  • Although English is the official MSF language, fluency in French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian or Portuguese is an advantage.
  • The ability to train others.
  • Willingness to act independently.
  • Capacity to organising yourself and others.
  • The ability to cope with stress: you will often find yourself in potentially stressful situations with primitive conditions and little privacy.
  • Proven ability to work in a team: you will need to work closely with other expatriates and national staff, so volunteers must be flexible, co-operative and strong communicators.
  • Available to work for a minimum of 9 months (6 months for doctors) and resident in the UK or Ireland (although you do not need to be a British or Irish passport holder)

MSF’s Recruitment Procedure

In order to be able to respond immediately to disasters, MSF keeps a register of qualified volunteers available to leave at short notice.  Selection of individuals for the MSF register follows a completed application form and CV, an interview, a technical test (if required), satisfactory professional references and a Criminal Record Check.   Once accepted on the register, a suitable field placement is found and preparation training provided.

Terms of employment

1. Expenses Allowance

  • The majority of people on missions abroad are given a volunteer contract covering a specific period (usually 9 to 12 months)
  • The volunteer will receive approximately £500 per month
  • MSF will meet all the costs of living and accommodation in the project country
  • MSF will meet all reasonable vaccination costs
  • MSF will reimburse Visa and travel expenses to and from the home country. Travel expenses incurred at the request of MSF for the purpose of (de-) briefing will also be reimbursed.

2. Insurance

  • MSF will take out an insurance policy for each volunteer to cover the following:

          - health insurance
          - private liability
          - repatriation
          - flight insurance
          - accident insurance

3. Holidays

    • MSF volunteers are entitled to 20 days of paid holiday each year. For periods of service of less than one year, the amount is paid pro rata.