Dr. Orbinski is a globally recognized humanitarian practitioner and advocate, as well as one of the world's leading scholars and scientists in global health. He believes in humanitarianism, in citizenship and in actively engaging and shaping the world in which we live, so that it is more humane, fair and just.
After extensive field experience with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Dr. Orbinski was elected MSF's international president from 1998 to 2001. He launched its Access to Essential Medicines Campaign in 1999, and in that same year accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to MSF for its pioneering approach to medical humanitarianism, and most especially for its approach to witnessing.
Dr. Orbinski worked as MSF's Head of Mission in Goma, Zaire in 1996 -97 during the refugee crisis. He was MSF's Head of Mission in Kigali during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and MSF's medical co-ordinator in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in the winter of 1994. He was MSF's medical co-ordinator in Baidoa, Somalia during the civil war and famine of 1992-1993. Dr. Orbinski's first MSF mission was in Peru in 1992.
For his leadership in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, Dr. Orbinski was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross, Canada's highest civilian award.
As international president of MSF, Dr. Orbinski represented the organization in numerous humanitarian emergencies and on critical humanitarian issues in among others, the Sudan, Kosovo, Russia, Cambodia, South Africa, India and Thailand. He has also represented MSF at the UN Security Council, in many national parliaments, and to for example, the WHO, and the UNHCR.
Dr. Orbinski is a founding board member of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, and the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Canadian Doctors for Medicare. He is a founding member of the editorial boards of Open Medicine and Conflict and Health, two new independent, peer-reviewed open access on-line medical journals that are committed to the best science and that see health in its larger political and human context. He also sits on the editorial board of Ars Medica, a new journal that explores the interface between the arts and medicine, and examines what makes medicine an art.
Dr. Orbinski is an invited member of the Climate Change and Health Council, a group of internationally prominent physicians calling for immediate action on climate change. He is also an invited member of the Davos World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Health Care Systems and Cooperation.
Dr. Orbinski's award-winning and internationally acclaimed documentary film on medical humanitarianism, titled "Triage" was screened at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and won the 2008 Amnesty International Gold Medal Award. It was released in theatres across Canada in the fall of 2008, and was televised in Canada and the US in 2009.
His best-selling book, "An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarianism in the 21st Century," was released in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and Australia in 2008 and 2009. It won the 2009 Writer's Trust Shaunessy-Cohen Prize for best political writing in Canada. It was one of five nominated for the 2008 Canadian Governor General's Literary Award in non-fiction, and was listed in 2008 as among NPR's Top Five Political and Current Affairs Books in the United States. It will be released in Germany, South Korea and across the francophone world in 2010.
As of 2010, Dr. Orbinski is a member of the Order of Ontario, and an Officer of the Order of Canada, designations that recognize his achievements and ongoing commitment to excellence in humanitarianism and global health.