Vanessa Naidoo

Dr Vanessa Naidoo was watching images of the injured in Libya on television when she decided to join MSF. As a member of a team sent to set up a maternity hospital in Afghanistan last year she helped to train midwives — some of whom had never seen an operation before — to work in the operating theatre and assist with caesarean sections. Naidoo also worked as an emergency doctor in a tent hospital at a refugee camp in Sudan, treating cases of malnutrition, lower respiratory tract infections and malaria, while struggling to contain a Hepatitis E outbreak. In Syria she worked as an anaesthetist in a hospital where she also handled most female consultations and delivered babies. In June she’ll return to Afghanistan. “I have to remain strong and believe that we are making a difference and trying to ease the suffering, but inevitably I wish I could do more,” she says. — Fatima Asmal