Over a nearly eight month period, I teamed up with reporters Sean Campbell and Ngozi Cole to interview nearly 100 current and former Doctors Without Borders staff. Our sources described a deeply-embedded two-tiered workforce, in which expatriates–who make up just 10% of staff–wield disproportionate decision-making power and net far greater benefits. For Reveal, Ngozi and I spoke to about half a dozen former MSF staff in Sierra Leone, who worked during the world’s largest Ebola outbreak. We also trace the story of Indira Govender, a South African doctor who’s been on all sides of the organization: first as a “national staff” in her home country, then as an “expat” in Sierra Leone, and now as an elected leader of the organization. For Insider, Sean and I look at the depth and breadth of these issues around the world.
This story was personal to me: I worked for MSF for a couple of years at the beginning of my career, and have been in the global health orbit since then. Many of the issues described in these pieces are seen across the “global health” sector. I hope this work will help to contribute to conversations around much-needed changes in international NGOs.