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Calling All Doctors With a Desire to Provide Health Care Overseas

May 02, 1997|TERENCE MONMANEY

Doctors Without Borders, the international group that provides medical relief to the war-torn, disaster-stricken and famine-plagued in 70 nations, has opened a West Coast office in Los Angeles to recruit Southland medical workers and raise money.

Also known by its French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, the 26-year-old organization particularly needs doctors specializing in surgery, infectious diseases, tropical medicine, public health and pediatrics. There is also demand for nurses, especially those trained in emergency medicine and intensive care.

Southern California is good recruiting ground because of its many medical and nursing schools and its multilingualism, not to mention that health workers here have had considerable practice coping with disasters.

The director of MSF's U.S. branch, Joelle Tanguy, said that health workers are needed to deal with not only highly publicized emergencies like that in Zaire but also "crises that are completely forgotten, like the southern Sudan, which is chronically challenging." About 100 U.S. volunteers will be sent overseas this year, she said, typically serving six months or longer.

Highlighting the charity's ties to the entertainment industry, Creative Artists Agency threw a party Thursday night marking the opening of MSF's office in Century City. CAA's Robert Bookman serves on the group's advisory board, along with actress Candice Bergen and producers Susan Harris, Marshal Williams and Paul Junger Witt.

The U.S. branch raised about $5.6 million last year, with 88% going to field operations, Tanguy said.

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