Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Health

Heavy fighting in the Central African Republic since the overthrow of the government of President Francois Bozize in March 2013 has forced thousands of people to flee into the bush, leaving them at the mercy of disease, without adequate healthcare and with scant access to food and clean water. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had been focusing on livelihood support in the north of the country, but it shifted into emergency response mode, often in partnership with the Central African Red Cross Society. Teams evacuated casualties, collected and buried dead bodies, provided emergency medical treatment, traced people…
In eight out of the past ten years, there has been drought somewhere in the Horn of Africa, affecting nearly 70 million people. Indeed, the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia suffer from water scarcity on an almost annual basis. In this context, water trucking has played a pivotal role in addressing basic water needs. It is a coping mechanism during ‘typical’ dry seasons, based on existing private sector water trucks and vendors who sell water to those who are able to pay for it. In times of drought, direct water trucking is a common relief…
Most humanitarian donors recognise the core humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality as a foundation for action in situations of conflict and complex emergency. They are enshrined in the ‘European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid’ adopted by European Union (EU) donors in December 2007 and are a key component of the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, first signed by donors in 2003. In practice, however, donors are confronted with numerous challenges to the application of humanitarian principles. There is growing political pressure to portray humanitarian action as part of the crisis management toolbox, or to link it to counter-insurgency,…
 There are more than 45 million displaced people in the world, 80% of them women and children.[1] Disasters, natural and manmade, typically destroy medical facilities, displace medical personnel and erode support structures. In these circumstances an unplanned pregnancy can be fatal, and between a quarter and a half of maternal deaths in crisis situations are due to complications from unsafe abortions.[2] Family planning and post-abortion care are proven, essential and cost-effective interventions that save women's lives.[3] Nonetheless, they have been long neglected in emergencies in favour of conventional priorities such as water, sanitation, shelter, basic healthcare and food. This article…
Yemen is a country racked with violence. Religious sectarianism, rebellion in the north, a secessionist movement in the south and the resurgence of Al-Qaeda are all playing out against a background of economic collapse, insufficient state capacity, corruption and tribalism. A large number of security incidents have affected Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) projects in Aden and Amran governorate north of the capital Sana'a (some 40 documented between April 2010 and July 2013 by MSF's French section alone), including security forces and armed men entering medical facilities to seek out patients, family and tribal revenge attacks against patients or doctors within…
Core to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s approach to assistance is sending international staff into foreign contexts to work with, and usually direct, locally recruited national staff. Outsiders bring experience, leadership and technical skills, and are in a better position to ‘witness’ intolerable situations and speak out about them. International staff are also better able to resist local pressures for resource diversion, giving MSF greater confidence that donor money is being spent appropriately. For many within and outside MSF, this model is the only responsible option because the compromises assumed to be inherent in a remotely managed programme are unacceptable. MSF-Operational…
Koenraad Van Brabant in conversation with Hakim N. Feerasta, Resident Representative, the Aga Khan Development Network, Tajikistan Koenraad Van Brabant The Aga Khan is recognised as the spiritual head (imam) of the Ismaeli community, and the majority of Ismaelis in Tajikistan live in the eastern region of Gorno-Badakshan. Are you working specifically with the Ismaelis? Hakim N. Feerasta Well, there are an estimated 25m Ismaelis all over the world. Tajikistan is one of the countries where Ismaelis live. But the Aga Khan Development Network is a secular organisation; it does not work only for the Ismaeli community. We operate within…
Koenraad Van Brabant, outgoing HPN Coordinator, interviews Christina ter Braak, MSF-Holland, Uzbekistan Koenraad Van Brabant Christina, how does a young woman from Holland end up working in Uzbekistan? Christina ter Braak My first six-month stay in Uzbekistan was in 1996, teaching Dutch and English at Tashkent University. After my Bachelor’s degree, I did a Master’s in development studies. For my thesis – on unemployment in Uzbekistan – I spent another three months there doing research; every single person I spoke to had an opinion on the subject. Subsequently, I applied for a job in the Tashkent office of Human Rights Watch (HRW), and was invited for recruitment tests in New York. But the reply…
From Iran to western China, Central Asia is suffering its worst drought in decades. One of the states hardest-hit has been Afghanistan; poor and conflict-ridden, it is also the least able to cope Afghanistan is in its third year of severe drought, compounding the effects of conflict and international isolation. Precarious security conditions and problems of access make needs difficult to assess, but it is clear that the food crisis in much of the country has become acute. Millions of Afghans have little or no access to food, and require international humanitarian food aid. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands more have been forced from their homes, congregating in camps in Afghanistan or across…
The Middle East is an atypical context for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The increasing complexity of humanitarian action, particularly the blurring of the lines between humanitarian and military actors and the increasing use of humanitarian language to justify wars, have made it even more difficult for MSF to negotiate independent operational space. This is especially so in some countries in the Middle East. Moreover, we are unaccustomed to working in middle-income countries where addressing non-communicable diseases is the priority. Although MSF is used to responding to acute crises, the Middle East suffers mostly from the chronic consequences of conflict. In…
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