Ensuring the health and safety of humanitarian aid workers

Leggat, Peter A. (2005) Ensuring the health and safety of humanitarian aid workers. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 3 (3). pp. 119-122.

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Abstract

It is estimated that there are approximately 50 million refugees and internally displaced persons world-wide.1 The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) alone is currently assisting more than 20 million refugees, internally displaced and other persons.2 Globally, thousands of humanitarian aid workers (HAWs) assist refugees and respond to humanitarian disasters. The UNHCR alone employs more than 5000 HAWs and other staff in 120 countries.1 Other major international humanitarian organisations deploy 1000's more HAWs, such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which deploys more than 15,000 HAWs in 80 countries,2 and the International Committee for the Red Cross, which deploys more than 9000 people in more than 60 delegations around the world.3

Although HAWs are largely ‘self-selected group’,4 humanitarian aid agencies remain accountable for the welfare, health and safety of HAWs, whether employees, contract workers or volunteers. An integral part of the pre-deployment briefing, should thus be workers' compensation and health insurance issues. Whichever group is involved, it is important that health practitioners, especially those involved with humanitarian aid agencies, advocate for all agencies to be accountable for the health and safety of HAWs. It is also important that HAWs are made aware of the potential dangers of working in the field. Indeed, HAWs, particularly those working for extended periods in the field, present major challenges for health practitioners in terms of prevention of illness5 and injury.

Item ID: 7215
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: aid workers; humanitarian; occupational health; risks; travel medicine
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ISSN: 1873-0442
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2010 04:14
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111706 Epidemiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
Citation Count from Scopus Scopus 3
Downloads: Total: 3
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