Meet MSF nurse Ali Criado-Perez
On hearing of the founding of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) in 1971, Alison Criado-Perez hoped that one day she would work for the organisation. But it wasn’t until 2007 that Ali took the plunge and headed off for her first MSF assignment to the Central African Republic.
Ali is a registered nurse, with a background in accident and emergency nursing.
Her work with MSF has taken Ali to some of the most remote areas of the world. From a South American rainforest to the villages of northern Nigeria, from the frontline of the conflict in Libya to a refugee camp in South Sudan, offering medical aid to the thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing across the border into eastern Turkey to the West African Ebola Crisis in 2014.
"[Working with MSF] is incredibly hard to give up. Every single day you’re doing something interesting and challenging and worthwhile."
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During an assignment to northern Uganda, she supervised a clinic providing healthcare to people displaced by the long-standing conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army.
In the jungle of Colombia, accessible only by canoe, Ali helped provide healthcare to remote communities who had been subjected to years of violence and displacement by guerrilla groups.
From South America back to sub-Saharan Africa: in 2010, an emergency call convened a small team to treat lead poisoning on an unprecedented scale, among rural communities in northern Nigeria.
Listen to Ali on the 'Brave New Girl' podcast discussing her MSF career
Later that year, floods devastated a nearby area and Ali returned to help assess the situation and provide medical care. In 2011 came one of Ali’s greatest challenges: joining an MSF team to evacuate war-wounded from Misrata in Libya, at the height of the conflict.
She spent three months living in a tent on a flood plain in South Sudan, providing healthcare to the 35,000 refugees in Jamam Camp, who had fled bombing north of the border.
Video snapshots of Ali in Libya and South Sudan
The spread of Ebola across West Africa in 2014 brought Ali to Sierra Leone. “After more than a decade as a nurse, I‘ve seen many people die. It’s always, of course, a great sadness. But these deaths from Ebola are uniquely horrid,” wrote Ali in her blog at the time.
Since fighting Ebola, Ali worked as the medical team leader onboard a search and rescue ship in the Mediterranean and supported Syrian refugees in Turkey and Jordan.
Her most recent assignments have taken Ali to Yemen in 2020 and 2021.
Speaking about her MSF career, Ali has said: “It is incredibly hard to give up. Every single day you’re doing something interesting and challenging and worthwhile.”
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