About US - Kashin-Beck Disease Fund asbl-vzw

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Kashin-Beck Disease Fund

The organization

Kashin-Beck Disease Fund (KBDF) is an international, independent non-profit organization that provides medical humanitarian assistance to more than 50,000 people living in around 100 villages in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Its mission is to provide assistance to Tibetans living in Kashin-Beck disease endemic areas, with the goals of alleviating the pain caused by Kashin-Beck disease; implementing appropriate and sustainable prevention programs; and researching the causes of the disease.

KBDF's programme is directed by Dr. Francoise Mathieu, who has started the KBD programme for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in 1992; ran it for ten years; earned her PhD with a focus on KBD; and continued the programme under the new organization KBDF. Dr. Mathieu and a team of volunteer scientists, medical and agricultural experts from Belgium guide the field staff daily in its work in the villages. The field staff consists of 11 Tibetan health and administrative officers workers, some who have been in the programme since 1992.

To the best of our knowledge, KBDF is the only non-governmental organization that is carrying out clinical activities and undertaking research on KBD for Tibetans affected by Kashin-Beck Disease. KBDF collaborates with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Tibet Autonomous Region. KBDF has also regular contacts with Chinese researchers who work in other endemics areas such as in Heilonjiang, Sha'anxi, Sichuan, and Gansu provinces and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as well as in Beijing.

KBDF was founded in November 2002 and registered as a non-profit organization in Belgium (N° 479.122.491). KBDF maintains complete independence in its operations, research activities, financial management, fundraising, and staffing from any political groups or governmental departments.

Historical context

The international humanitarian organisation Doctors without Borders (MSF) started a programme to fight the Kashin-Beck Disease (KBD) in Tibet, in 1992. The treatment of the disease, also known as Big Bone Disease, initially focused on relieving the pain and the physical handicaps of the patients through physical therapy. From 1995 onwards MSF started to research the risk factors linked to the disease. A prevention strategy was implemented in 22 villages. Eventually seventy other villages could benefit from the actions developed.

MSF, focusing on emergency humanitarian aid as its core business, decided to withdraw from Tibet in 2002. With time, the KBD project had developed into a long term program which didn’t fit the MSF priorities anymore. In order to be able to continue their work, the Tibetan team and the international experts of the KBD project created the Kashin-Beck Disease Foundation (Kashin-Beck Disease Fund asbl/vzw, established in Belgium)

The KBD Fund provides medical services to patients suffering from KBD. Its aim is to prevent new cases through a distribution of nutrients supplements and by improving the grain storage techniques. The organization also trains the medical community in order to use curative and preventive techniques and continues the research on the disease in Central Tibet.

The 4 co-founders of the KBD Fund are academics and doctors who were already participating in the MSF project. The 6 members of the Board of Directors are also professionals interested in the epidemiological research on and treatment of the KBD

Board of Directors

Board President and Co-founder of the KBD Fund
Dominique Moens
Board Treasurer
Françoise MATHIEU, PhD
Co-founder of the KBD Fund, Board Secretary

Co-founder of the KBD Fund, Administrator


Philippe GOYENS, MD, PhD

Georges C. LOGNAY, PhD

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