The incidence of natural disasters is increasing worldwide, with countries the least well-equipped to mitigate or manage them suffering the greatest losses. Following natural disasters, ill-prepared foreign responders may become a burden to the affected population, or cause harm to those needing help.
The study was performed to determine if international guidelines for foreign workers in the health sector exist, and evidence of their implementation.
A structured literature search was used to identify guidelines for foreign health workers (FHWs) responding to natural disasters. Analysis of semi-structured interviews of health sector responders to the 2015 Nepal earthquake was then performed, looking at preparation and field activities.
No guidelines were identified to address the appropriate qualifications of, and preparations for, international individuals participating in disaster response in the health sector. Interviews indicated individuals choosing to work with experienced organizations received training prior to disaster deployment and described activities in the field consistent with general humanitarian principles. Participants in an ad hoc team (AHT) did not.
In spite of need, there is a lack of published guidelines for potential international health sector responders to natural disasters. Learning about disaster response may occur only after joining a team.
. Dunin-Bell O What do they know? Guidelines and knowledge translation for foreign health sector workers following natural disasters. . 2018; 33( 2): 139– 146.