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Watches that help those who help

Watches that help those who help
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"Health should not depend on how much money you have!"

50 years of Doctors Without Borders: When it comes to saving lives, the organization, founded in Paris in 1971, needs help. Donations are essential and so are watches from NOMOS Glashütte—which raise funds for emergency aid. We spoke with the General Director of the German chapter, Christian Katzer.

Mr. Katzer, Doctors Without Borders was founded in Paris in 1971. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the organization—is a celebration in order?

Yes and no. Of course, we would like to celebrate the fact that Doctors Without Borders has consistently achieved so much throughout the years. On the other hand, it’s worrying that we are still so urgently needed and that suffering continues to be so widespread across the world.

Corona has affected the lives of everyone. But, for you, aren’t epidemics and extreme medical crises par for the course?

No, certainly not. This pandemic has proved to be a huge challenge, even for us. For example: Travel to countries where we work suddenly became much more difficult because of restrictions, quarantine regulations, and the increase in administrative demands. In addition, urgently needed supplies such as protective masks and oxygen were short, and our logistics have had to adapt fast. And just like everyone else in Germany, our Berlin team has also been affected by the switch to home office, as well as by homeschooling and so much else.

How has the pandemic changed the work of Doctors Without Borders? Under which conditions do the employees of your organization have to work, and what is the current situation in the treatment centers run by Doctors Without Borders?

That varies from project to project. Across the board, we were forced to make our hygiene measures more strict. That means more protective clothing, separate waiting areas, more training. Then there are special COVID-19 projects, which we set up when necessary. In India, Brazil, and Peru the situation has suddenly become so acute that we have set up new projects in each country.

What is the biggest challenge facing Doctors Without Borders right now?

There are many extremely challenging issues facing us besides the COVID-19 pandemic: Conflict and forced migration, epidemics—and the question of how best to reach the people who are suffering. Then there is the climate crisis, which also has medical consequences: Droughts that lead to malnutrition, or hurricanes that destroy the homes and livelihoods of many people. And all the while we have our own internal challenges. As an organization, we must stay ahead and constantly reassess our internal structure. For example, how we can understand people’s needs even better and adapt the way we provide aid accordingly.

NOMOS Glashütte has produced a special watch model for Doctors Without Borders—available worldwide for the first time—and limited to 2,021 pieces. This watch is instantly recognizable by the red 12. 100 euros from each sale of this mechanical timepiece goes directly to people in need. What can you do with the 100 euros provided by each watch?

A lot! Worldwide, every two minutes a child dies of malaria. With 100 euros we can purchase 39 mosquito nets, for example. The nets keep mosquitos, which transmit tropical diseases such as malaria, at bay. Or we can provide enough sterile equipment—gloves, scissors, and sutures—for ten births. Life-threatening infections often occur when this kind of equipment is missing.

Doctors Without Borders is turning 50, but there is another round number to discuss: In 2021, the partnership between Doctors Without Borders and NOMOS Glashütte is now in its tenth year. How do people at Doctors Without Borders talk about the partnership with NOMOS? Why do you do it, how does it fit into the work you do there?

There was a lot of discussion around the start of the partnership. Working with a partner was something new for us. So questions came up such as: What happens if one of the partners comes under public criticism? Do our target groups even fit together? Today, I can say that our cooperation has been a great success for both sides, and it still is. Well over one million euros has been raised during this time for our aid projects. And I think it’s great that NOMOS Glashütte is engaged in issues beyond our partnership, for example, its stance and discourse regarding xenophobia, or its statement on sea rescue. Even when the criticism grew very fierce at times, NOMOS always gave us—to continue with the image of seafaring—a tailwind.

What would have to happen for “better times for many” to actually become reality?

More than anything the political push for global equality has to improve. A real example of this is the production of vaccinations against the coronavirus. Politicians have to speak up here and say: No patents in a pandemic, we must be able to produce vaccinations everywhere and as efficiently as possible. The pharmaceutical companies of course must see a return of the development costs. But billions of taxpayer money went into the development stage, and there are billions in profit at stake. With other drugs—such as those against tuberculosis or HIV—we have spent years campaigning to make them affordable for everyone.

If you had one wish?

That health is not decided by money or country of birth.

Doctors Without Borders and NOMOS Glashütte: This is an important topic, and we have lots more information to share. If you would like to learn more or would like to request an interview, visit us in Glashütte or require more images, just get in touch: We are always happy to hear from you.
Katrin Bosse-Foy
NOMOS Glashütte
PR department
+49 35053 404-481
NOMOS Glashütte/SA
Roland Schwertner KG
Ferdinand-Adolph-Lange-Platz 2
01768 Glashütte


Weitere Storys: NOMOS Glashütte/SA Roland Schwertner KG
Weitere Storys: NOMOS Glashütte/SA Roland Schwertner KG