MAGNA operates internationally and provides assistance to children and their families in need, including victims of natural disasters, wars and conflicts. In the field we maintain doctors and medical staff but also technical and other specialists, providing humanitarian assistance and help to treat children and their families.
Founded in 2001 in Slovakia by Martin Bandžák and Denisa Augustínová and based on their direct experience of the AIDS epidemic in Cambodia, MAGNA began providing medical assistance to disaster victims around the world. Through MAGNA hospitals we provide health care, medicines, and food to children and their families.
MAGNA intervention in 2019
303,000 out-patient consultations
11,200 malnourished children in nutrition programs
Health projects are primarily aimed at saving lives and alleviating the suffering of those in need. Armed conflicts and an unstable political situation have a devastating impact on ordinary people. Consequences, often associated with inadequate local health services, commonly include direct violence, forced displacement, epidemics, famine, and psychological trauma. Providing medical assistance to victims of conflicts and crises is MAGNA workers’ top priority. Alleviating suffering from infectious diseases neglected by local structures is another major area of MAGNA’s focus.
The organization aims to provide adequate treatment and care for people affected by diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cholera, malaria, and others. MAGNA also responds to the needs of people who are excluded from access to basic health care, and assists victims of natural disasters.
Independence: MAGNA operates in accordance with its own principles. The activities of MAGNA are in no way influenced by political entities or the internal or foreign policy of any particular government.
Impartiality: MAGNA works with strict respect for political and religious neutrality and impartiality.
Non-discrimination:MAGNA accepts no forms of discrimination based on race, gender, ethnic origin, religion, nationality, belief, or social class.
Free and direct access to victims: MAGNA bases its activities on the need for free access to victims and full independence in its projects. MAGNA endeavours to obtain all the means necessary to achieve this goal. The organization manages the distribution of its resources directly, to ensure that they reach the target population.
Ethics:MAGNA bases its activities on legal and fair practices guided by ethical principles, including strictly avoiding child abuse and firm respect for key social rights.
Professionalism: The conceptualization, implementation, management, and evaluation of MAGNA programs is always characterized by a high level of professionalism. MAGNA uses its experience to maximize efficiency and resources.
Anti-corruption:MAGNA refuses to support fraudulent conduct, directly or indirectly, and works hard on minimizing risks of corruption in carrying out its activities.
Transparency and accountability:MAGNA is committed to fully and transparently accessing its beneficiaries, partners, and donors by providing access to information on the allocation and management of funds. The organization undertakes to provide all the tools necessary to ensure the proper management of its activities.
The idea of establishing an organization telling the stories and providing medical assistance to children in crisis areas around the world came about in 2000. At that time, photographer Martin Bandžák and psychologist Denisa Augustínová were returning from a medical facility in Cuba for victims of the Chernobyl disaster. They spent several months on the spot, documenting the stories of children from Ukraine and Belarus who suffered from various anomalies and serious diseases even 15 years after the tragedy. Located a few kilometres from the capital of Havana, the "Tarara" was used to hide these children from the world. Their stories then were published by many Slovak and Czech media outlets, and shocked the public.
Based on this experience, the MAGNA organization was established. Its fundamental principles are:
To be able to choose freely a place to provide health and social assistance.
In times of humanitarian crises, to intervene quickly where it is most necessary and to help children and their families, regardless of their ethnic, religious or political interests.
To create innovative health projects to assist individuals.
To document the fate of disaster victims and tell the stories from forgotten parts of the world that would otherwise not reach the general public.
AIDS in Cambodia - In 2002, thousands of people fell victim to an AIDS pandemic that struck the country, causing enormous loss of life. Parents who succumbed to the disease (it is reported that up to 250,000 people died from AIDS-related diseases during this period) left behind orphaned children, many of whom were infected from birth, who were dying on the streets without any medical assistance. There was no state-organized health care in the country; international organizations such as Doctors without Borders or Doctors of the World gradually began to treat adults, while others just stood by. The dysfunctional health system and extreme poverty of the affected population meant families could not take care of their children. There was nobody to provide the necessary medical treatment to infected children, the so-called "second wave".
Martin Bandžák and Denisa Augustínová were eyewitnesses to this tragedy. Pragmatically and with great dedication, they began to address the situation, opening a facility for the treatment of infected children in the capital Phnom Penh. They provided antiretroviral (ARV) treatment that saved many of their lives. They called up teams of medical professionals from Slovakia, and trained local doctors and involved them in their work. Within a few months, MAGNA had set up treatment for its first patient, and became one of the first organizations to begin attending to paediatric patients with antiretroviral therapy.
Martin Bandžák says: “In 2002, we found HIV-positive children in Cambodia tied to beds in local orphanages, without medication or anyone to take any interest in them. That drove us to do something, and we began not only to document their stories but to treat them too. We created a system that saved many of their lives.”
Our first patient, Rana, is 18 today and lives and works in Phnom Penh, like thousands of other children whose lives we helped save. Today, MAGNA is a leader in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and continues to provide assistance to HIV/AIDS victims in Cambodia.
Since then, MAGNA has set up medical missions and deployed its teams to save children’s lives and to alleviate the suffering of those in need. In order to protect human life, we document their destinies, and tell stories that would not otherwise reach the general public.