Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in MSF

Together, we can and should do better!

Activity for field teams, offices or other settings

Around 15% of the world’s population, an estimated 1 billion people live with disabilities.
Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Several sources acknowledge that “persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, and face multiple barriers in accessing protection and humanitarian assistance, including relief and recovery support. They are also particularly exposed to targeted violence, exploitation and abuse, including sexual and gender-based violence.”

A 2014 report from Handicap International (now known as Humanity & Inclusion) and Help Age found that 22% of Syrian refugees in camps in Lebanon and Jordan had a disability. Moreover, 30% of the refugees in these camps had special needs related to age, disability, injuries or chronic disease.

MSF does not have the intention to reach everyone, however as a humanitarian actor it does have the ambition to look out for the most vulnerable groups. Persons with disabilities are often among the most vulnerable in countries where we work. Inclusion is about asking ourselves; “Are there barriers which hamper persons with disabilities to access MSF services?”, and more generally, “Who are the patients that do not reach our services?”

Where are we in MSF on this topic?

-     The motion on inclusion of persons with disabilities was broadly supported at the International general Assembly in 2016.

-     The TIC (Transformational Investment capacity, a newly established committee in MSF to promote transformation of the organization to better respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow) project on inclusion of persons with disabilities built on this motion with the ambition to “transform MSF into an organization more inclusive of persons with disabilities in its structure and action”. This project is developing, gathering and promoting materials of relevance to better understand and raise awareness on what barriers persons with disabilities are facing and how to practically become more inclusive of persons with disabilities in our organization and missions. All key materials are gathered in a single portal.

-     This project also ran a survey towards the national and international staff in the overall MSF movement in April-May 2018. The results show that about 60% of our international staff and 80% of our national staff believes more should have been done when it comes to inclusion in their last assignment.

The TIC project proposes here a simple kit to raise awareness on inclusion in your mission or setting. 

Enjoy the kit and do not hesitate to send us feedback and share your experience.

Patrice Vastel,
Coordinator TIC project on inclusion of persons with disabilities in MSF


How to use it:
1) Show the first eight slides of introduction of the Powerpoint presentation
2) Show the video (“Youtube” link included in the presentation on slide #9)
3) Show the questions for discussion and animate the discussion (Slide #10)
4) Refer to the portal to invite participants to go further
5) Collect comments, questions, ideas, suggestions and do not hesitate to send us a feedback and to share your experience. Do not hesitate to attach pictures!
6) Optional: at the end of the kit we also added some tips on how to interact with persons with disabilities as the question is frequently asked.
Kit contents:
2. Guideline (PDF) (Optional: to print and distribute)
Download everything by clicking on the titles in red.

Tell us about your experience of raising awareness

What were the reactions in the group? What questions and answers were raised in the discussions? What made sense and what was provocative? What actions could you agree on?

How did you use the kit? What was useful and what wasn't? 

Share your experience of raising awareness on inclusion of persons with disabilities, and give us feedback on the kit.

Contact us here or send us an e-mail at


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