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Second Canadian MD to head MSF: "I refuse to get used to death"

For the second time, a Canadian physician has been elected international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Dr. Joanne Liu of Montréal, a McGill University graduate whose humanitarian career with MSF began in 1996, has helped earthquake victims in Haiti, Somali refugees in Kenya, tsunami survivors in Indonesia and victims of natural and war-related disasters in many other countries. She will assume the Geneva-based position in October.

"I have been blessed because I have been able to use my medical skills to help alleviate suffering for people in crisis," she says. "MSF works in very difficult situations, but I refuse to get used to death. We do everything to ensure patient survival, but we also go a step further to affirm people's humanity and protect their dignity."

Liu, a former program manager at MSF's Paris office, is a pediatrician with subspecialty training in pediatric emergency care; she practises at Sainte-Justine University Health Centre in Montréal.

Dr. James Orbinski, now the chair of global health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, was the first Canadian to serve as MSF's international president. In 1999, he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the organization.

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