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In Nagasaki in western Japan, MSF has provided onshore medical assistance responding to an outbreak of COVID-19 among crew members on a cruise ship docked for repairs. A total of 149 of 623 staff have tested positive for COVID-19. MSF’s medical team of one doctor and two nurses assessed the condition of the patients and assisted with referrals based on the severity. 


Can you make a donation to support our COVID-19 response?

Right now, Médecins Sans Frontières is providing much needed support and medical care in over 30 countries to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our teams are also gearing up to confront potential outbreaks in the hundreds of areas we were already working before the pandemic struck. We are deploying medical staff, sending supplies and applying nearly 50 years of experience fighting epidemics to protect the most vulnerable and save lives.
Can you help increase our capacity to respond by making a donation to our COVID-19 Crisis Appeal?






Why were we There?

  • Natural disasters

Our Work

Japan tsunami

  • The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March 2011 devastated the northeastern coast of Honshu island.
  • Approximately 15,000 people were killed and 6,000 were injured.
  • Japanese emergency teams were largely able to respond to the needs of survivors, and Médecins Sans Frontières offered specialist assistance.
  • The day after the quake and tsunami, staff made their way to affected areas by helicopter and began providing survivors with medical care and distributing relief items.
  • In the weeks that followed, Médecins Sans Frontières distributed blankets, water, a generator for a temporary shelter in Baba-Nakayama village and hygiene kits containing soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and towels. Médecins Sans Frontières also provided kits containing batteries, candles and matches


Work in Minami Sanriku and Taro

  • Médecins Sans Frontières worked principally in the northern coastal towns of Minami Sanriku and Taro, where the main healthcare facilities were totally destroyed.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières delivered two 30-seater buses to authorities in Minami Sanriku to help transport patients from evacuation centres and temporary housing to medical facilities.
  • At the request of people staying in a centre in Baba-Nakayama, Médecins Sans Frontières designed and helped construct a semi-permanent shelter close by.
  • In Taro, Médecins Sans Frontières designed and built a temporary clinic, for use until a more permanent structure was completed. This was handed over to local health authorities in December.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières also delivered a vehicle specifically designed to transport disabled patients living in and around Taro.


Psychological support

  • After the initial emergency response, the team shifted focus to the mental health needs of survivors, offering psychological support, especially for people living in evacuation centres.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières psychologists carried out activities to raise awareness of mental health issues and the support that was available.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières staff accompanied nurses on visits to temporary shelters and provided direct training in mental health during consultations with patients.
  • In April, a café was set up near the Bayside Arena of Minami Sanriku. Here, people could talk in an informal setting, with a team of Médecins Sans Frontières psychologists on hand to provide counselling.
  • The main problems reported by people at the café related to stress management, difficulties with memory and concentration, and sleeping disorders due to crowded conditions in temporary housing.
  • At the end of June, Médecins Sans Frontières handed over its activities at the café to a local association.


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Médecins Sans Frontières began working in the country in 2011.