Friday, February 23, 2024

Docteurs Sans MÉDICINE


By Sakwiba Sikota

Doctors Without Borders deserve all our support. The Spanish version of Doctors Without Borders is Médicos Sin Fronteras whilst he French version is Médicin Sans Frontier. They are selfless and work in very difficult situations and environments.

Doctors Without Borders was founded in 1971 in Paris France in the wake of war and famine in Biafra, Nigeria. This organisation was formed to provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare.

Last year the New Dawn government, in an attempt to service Zambians excluded from healthcare, recruited more than 30,000 health workers and sent them all over the country much like how Docteurs Sans Frontier send health personnel all over the world.

These Doctors Without Borders are sent to very difficult and at times dangerous places. It may be to the heart of a pandemic like cholera or even Ebola. Some are sent to war torn regions. That is why they are called Docteur Sans Frontiere.

The Zambian 30,000 health workers have also been sent by the New Dawn to very difficult situations.

The French have made the nomenclature it difficult by interchanging the name of Doctors Without Borders by sometimes referring to them as Docteur Sans Frontiere and at other times Médicin Sans Frontier. Docteur interchanging with Médicin.

The play with words creates interesting nomenclature.

‘Without’ is ‘sans’ in French.

‘Doctor’ is ‘Docteur’ or ‘Médecin’ in French.

‘Medicine’ is ‘Médecine’ en français.

You have no doubt noticed that the difference between doctor and medicine when translated into French is the ‘e’ at the end of médecine.

In Zambia we have the urgent need to give assistance to save lives and ease the suffering of people in crisis situations. The New Dawn have gone some way to address the shortage of medical personnel. The crisis however, seems to be in the chronic shortage of drugs.

What we have in Zambia is not Doctuers Sans Frontier but, due to the chronic shortage of medicine in the New Dawn health facilities, we have gone further than the French interchange of Docteur with Médicin. We have opted for médecine.

In recognizing the chronic difficulties Zambians are facing in getting drugs for medical treatment, the New Dawn has played around with the French version of ‘Doctors Without Borders’ and coined the nomenclature Zambian version to be “Docteurs Sans Médecine.”


  1. No one knows better than Sakwiba Sikota that Zambia is still in a fiscal crisis due to the financial black hole left behind by the PF government headed by his friend and fellow lawyer Edgar Lungu. All regular suppliers of medicines are still owed money by Zambia. How do u go to them and ask for more medicines on credit? This is the challenge Zambia faces now. No doubt Sakwiba Sikota has got it or been reminded if he had forgotten.


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