May 15, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
The ICRC is a part of the world’s largest humanitarian movement, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Neutral and independent, the aim of this cohort is to deliver aid to communities in need, regardless of race, religion or politics. The ICRC’s Australia Mission forms part of the ICRC’s Regional Delegation in the Pacific. It works to garner support for the organisation’s worldwide operations and to promote universal humanitarian principles and International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
The ICRC is dedicated to responding rapidly and efficiently to the humanitarian needs of people affected by armed conflict or by a natural disaster occurring in a conflict area. Hostilities and natural disasters often strike without warning and their effects are worsened in countries already affected by war.
The objective of ICRC’s Health Unit is to give victims of violence, conflict and natural disasters access to essential, effective healthcare that meets acceptable standards. To this end, it assists or sometimes temporarily replaces local health services. The main goal is to help reduce the suffering, disabilities and mortality that result from deficient or improper care.
One of the most significant fallouts of conflict situation, whether natural or manmade, is the disruption of healthcare. If at all any health services remain operational, access can be difficult or dangerous. Worse still, these establishments are often short staffed. As a result, normal health-care needs get ignored. Children and pregnant women do not receive essential vaccinations, basic antenatal care becomes a luxury, and there is simply no capacity to attend to chronic illness or elective surgery.
In these crises situations, the ICRC helps maintain at least basic health services, emergency hospital care, emergency transport and First Aid. These basic services include mother and child care, vaccination campaigns, outpatient treatment, and dealing with the consequences of sexual violence. Emergency health requirements can range from medicines and medical equipment, training local health workers and enlisting the assistance of expat medical and surgical teams, to administrative support and the reconstruction of medical facilities.
In chronic crises and post-crisis situations, the ICRC may provide more diversified support to ensure continuity of primary health care including broader immunisation programs and promotion of health and hygiene.
In addition, the ICRC is stepping up its efforts to highlight psychological trauma under these extreme conditions. Over the past few years, the organisation has been increasing the size of its Mental Health and Psychosocial Support team. ICRC medical staff also visit prisons to evaluate the mental health of the inmates and investigate the consequences of physical or psychological ill-treatment.
In areas of conflict, health care professionals are often in short supply. Successful surgery, which is an important aspect of ICRC’s activities, is dependent on the availability of competent nursing care in addition to skilled surgical professionals. The ICRC in Australia offers plenty of opportunities for nurses and other medical personnel across all disciplines, who are looking to do some volunteer work.