Leading experts call for improved healthcare response to humanitarian disasters

(c) Rob Holden
Ebola and the impacts of disease – mortailty amoungst health workers in Sierra Leonne

To coincide with World Humanitarian Day, a number of the country’s leading medical and NGO experts are calling for an urgent review of the way that healthcare is delivered to those most in need during and in the aftermath of a crisis.

  • Leading experts call for urgent review of disaster and crisis healthcare
  • This must be achieved through increased integration and shared-learning
  • Lessons must be learned from recent crises in West Africa and Syria

News Release |Wednesday 19 August 2015

The Extreme Medicine Conference is a vital forum to bring the best minds from around the globe together to share and most importantly disseminate information and learning from disparate healthcare specialties.

They bring expertise from diverse environments to develop best practice that is the foundation of healthcare delivery on the frontline. Speakers at the conference will define the necessary proactive rather than reactive response to emergencies, as exemplified by the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Part of this is recognising and deploying the widest range of skillsets in a crisis, and facilitating joined up working across geopolitical boundaries.

‘Extreme medicine’ refers to the provision of medical care outside of conventional settings, typically in low resource environments that exist as a consequence of sudden onset disasters, conflict zones or being expeditionary locations. The medics who work in these remote settings are in a position to universally share relevant knowledge and experience as well as research and techniques with one another. A key benefit of this is integration with local medics delivering healthcare on the ground. It is these skills which experts suggest need to be recognised and cohesively deployed to relevant humanitarian disasters.

Dr Sean Hudson, Remote Medicine Specialist and Extreme Conference organizer said, “The Extreme Medicine Conference brings together specialists from disaster medicine under one roof so we can see and learn from other clinicians operating in other environments. It is one small step in terms of improved disaster response. Global disasters are going to be inevitably more frequent as a result of climate change and we should be on the front foot. Extreme medicine and global health need to be further recognised to allow for better responses across the world.”

Nick Gent, Deputy Head of Emergency Response at PHEExtreme medicine practitioners come from a range of specialisms but they work in closely related areas so there’s a huge amount that can be shared between them. We have to look back and think about learning for the future, we have to always think about we can improve responses to issues such as Ebola.”

Ivan Gayton, Technological Innovation Adviser with the Manson Unit at Médecins Sans Frontières UK, said: “In order to provide effective health responses to those most in need, we must bring disciplines from all areas of remote and extreme medicine together to share learnings and knowledge. By doing this we can truly understand the constraints of the environments where the most urgent care is needed and draw on the experiences of those in the field to understand what would deliver the most successful outcome.”

Rob Williams, CEO of War Child, Charity partner to the Extreme Medicine Conference said, “Nobody is more vulnerable in conflict than children and War Child work closely with their parents and local staff to ensure they are getting the treatment they so desperately need. They are in dire need of urgent psychological support to help them come to terms with the traumas they have experienced and witnessed. But we want to respond quicker on a global scale and by humanitarian workers and medics from all fields sharing knowledge, we can all learn from each other and reach the optimum response. This is the ethos of the World Extreme Medicine Conference and why War Child is proud to a partner this year.”


For more information and/or to arrange interviews with spokespeople, please contact:

Julia Flint | freuds | Julia.flint@freuds.com | 0203 003 6593 or 07773331815

Jessica Hampton | freuds | Jessica.hampton@freuds.com |0203 003 6415 or 07949 717217

Notes to editors:

  • The Extreme Medicine Conference is home to the world’s most adventurous doctors, medics and experts in remote, expedition, humanitarian, disaster and pre-hospital medicine. These global thought leaders have gathered to share universally relevant knowledge and experience, research and techniques in a stimulating, interactive and accessible forum.
  • With sessions on everything from prosthetics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and the future of medical transplantation, the World Extreme Medicine Conference is also at the forefront of medical innovation.
  • The Extreme Medicine Conference has partnered with some of the world’s most active organisations and charities pushing the edge of human endeavour including War Child, Medicines Sans Frontiers, NASA and the Society for Experimental Biology.
  • Expedition & Wilderness Medicine (EWM) is a leading provider of remote medical training to doctors, nurses and paramedics from across the globe.  It teaches the clinical mind-set and practical skills necessary to be able to perform effectively and provide safe and effective medical care in low resource, hostile and austere environments.
  • Now in its fourth year, the conference challenges thinking, forges connections and introduces new ideas about delivering medicine in some of the world’s most challenging settings.  The conference brings together four disparate yet overlapping medical fields in one arena: Pre-Hospital, Disaster & Humanitarian, Expedition Medicine and Global Health, with experts in each field presenting the latest thinking and techniques, and sharing their inspiring stories. Venue information, Central Hall Westminster, 26-29 October, 2015: extrememedicineexpo.com

  • World Humanitarian Day recognizes those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. For more information, please visit: http://worldhumanitarianday.org

Medicine Conference - Extreme Medicine