Health data sharing

This project was completed.

Can MSF share its health data with outside organisations responsibly?

Sharing health data that MSF collects based on an informed consent in an open, transparent and timely way could produce major public health benefits for our patients. The people we treat are among the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised, which often means that the evidence base for addressing their public health needs is extremely inadequate. MSF can help rectify that shortcoming.

But even in ordinary circumstances, the collection, storage and circulation of information about people raises important ethical questions. When those data subjects are people in desperate need, the ethical and practical challenges become even more acute. If MSF stores or shares data using inappropriate techniques, technologies or protocols, we could harm our patients. In certain circumstances, we could also undermine core humanitarian principles: independence, neutrality, and even impartiality.

The Japan Innovation Unit’s specialisation in data-based innovation and our efforts to reflect critically on innovation in humanitarian work are both crucial to weighing the risks and rewards of data sharing and getting the balance right.


The main goal was to develop a concept note of a solution to the data sharing challenge, and a proposal to the next steps.

Progress so far

A concept note was developed – based on the note, MSF Operational Centre Amsterdam (the Manson Unit) and Japan Innovation Unit started a collaboration to develop a Data Sharing Platform

Data based innovation
MSF Medical Directors
MSF Operational Centre Amsterdam, MSF Research Management and Impact Tool (REMIT), MSF Intersectional Legal Department, MSF Health Information Systems Departments


MSF Japan Innovation Team

MSF Japan Innovation Team is providing innovative ideas of solutions to the MSF activities. If you, either as a company or as a professional, have an idea that would be beneficial to our projects as well as patients, please contact us. Your innovative proposal is always appreciated.