Doctors without borders cycle tour comes to Delhi

ANI| Updated: Oct 27, 2013, 11:17 AM IST

New Delhi: Over 200 cycle enthusiasts from Delhi got on their bikes early on Sunday morning to express their solidarity with outgoing International President of Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Dr. Unni Karunakara, who is cycling over 5,000 km across the length and breath of India in support of medical humanitarian aid programs in 70 countries around the world, from Syria to the eight projects in India.

The cycling enthusiasts undertook a 25-km-long ride from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the Bio Diversity Park in Gurgaon.

Nancy, a doctor from France, said: "I came here with my family to support this. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) provides medical assistance to people who need it. I think that is awesome."

Another doctor taking part in the event said: "I started cycling two weeks ago. The objective is to see the country, meet and interact with people. I am also trying to talk to medical students about humanitarian medicine. I don't think people in India know much about Doctors Without Borders, even though we are working since 1999. We hope more people come out and support us."

Dr Karunakara said: "So far the journey has been quite interesting. After working in international health for nearly 20 years, it has been a completely new learning experience for me to hear what people in India think about health."

"I am excited to share the stories I have gathered along the way with fellow riders in Delhi and hope to collect their thoughts on health too," he added.

Dr. Karunakara began his journey in Srinagar on October 12 and has so far cycled 850 kilometers till Delhi.

He has said that this cycling tour will fulfill a dream of cycling the length of the country. He has been wanting to do this since he was a medical intern in 1988, when he cycled from Delhi to Leh and Srinagar to Delhi.

He calls his journey Unnicycles.

Dr. Karunakara ended his three-year term as International President of MSF on October 1. During his tenure, MSF confronted many challenges to delivering healthcare in conflict zones, natural disasters, and to populations with inadequate access to healthcare in over 70 countries around the world.

In 2012 alone, MSF medical teams worldwide provided over eight million outpatient consultations, helped deliver around 1,85,000 babies, conducted nearly 80,000 surgical procedures, and vaccinated almost 7,00,000 people against measles.

Dr.Karunakara will finish the Unnicycles tour in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in February 2014.

Along the way, he will stop in 65 cities, towns and villages, speak at ten medical colleges, hold question and answer sessions at nine film screenings hosted by Alliance Francaise, and meet other cycling enthusiasts and clubs.