Aid worker administers medicine to Haitian child in Léogâne.With the current wave of natural disasters and international conflicts extant in the world today, the number of people engaged in global humanitarian relief, including medicine, is growing. As a result, there have arisen special concerns for providing medical care and other types of assistance during humanitarian efforts. At the Wilderness Society summer annual meeting in 2010, Cindy Bitter, MD, led a round table discussion entitled “Challenges and Controversies in Humanitarian Medicine.” I will use materials she prepared for the syllabus to offer some observations about the general topic of humanitarian medicine, which is very often practiced in outdoor settings that are austere.
Current estimates state that, worldwide, there are more than 5,000 organizations providing humanitarian aid at a total expense of $15 billion. Medical assistance is given in many situations, including natural disasters, conflict and refugee care, provision of basic medical needs in low-resource areas, surgical missions, local resource development, and sanitation and nutrition projects. In 2009 alone, there were Read more »