Humanitarian Health Action

World Humanitarian Day 2010

Paying tribute to humanitarian workers

19 August 2010 is the second World Humanitarian Day.

In 2010 the Day will raise awareness of what it means to be a humanitarian aid worker by describing the work humanitarians do, explaining the principles all humanitarians are guided by, and portraying the hazards humanitarian workers face in the course of their work. The Day will also honour aid workers who have been killed or injured in the course of their work.

The United Nations General Assembly, which established the Day in 2008, invites all countries, UN entities and international and non-governmental organizations to observe the day annually, providing an opportunity to increase public support for humanitarian work worldwide.

Humanitarians for health - Read how WHO staff help those in need

WHO trains Somali health workers

Amid Mogadishu's ongoing violence, WHO sent a specialized trauma surgeon to the Somalia capital to train dozens of local health professionals in treating trauma cases and delivering emergency care to pregnant women. "This training shows that despite enormous challenges, the international humanitarian community is still making a difference for Somalis."

The first moments after the earthquake by Dr. Henriette Chamouillet


"I was meeting with the Prime Minister, Minister of Health, and members of the health area at a private house and suddenly everything shakes. We were able to all leave the room safely and we waited until it had finished in the garden. All of the private houses were down, one meter high walls were down, everything was down. So I realised immediately how serious the quake was. I have felt earthquakes before, but I have never experienced one as strong as this."

Kayiba Medlen, radiology technologist and PAHO/WHO consultant

WHO/N Alexander

"I met a technician yesterday at a hospital where we were installing the digital equipment. I wanted him to be there to be part of it so he knows this is his baby, this is his domain. In a way, I wanted him to be there for the "birth." His face was…I can't describe it. He looked so happy."

Supporting WHO staff welfare during the Gaza crisis

WHO Gaza

Dyaa Saymah is the WHO National Mental Health Officer in Gaza, but in offices as busy as those in Gaza, it is usual for staff like Dyaa to do a whole lot more than indicated in his job description. But during the three-week conflict, that began in Gaza on 27 December 2008, Dyaa and Mahmoud Daher, the WHO National Health Officer in Gaza, worked around the clock.

Health sector calls for greater access to those most in need of health care

WHO Afghanistan

To mark the significance of World Humanitarian Day, the health sector in Afghanistan has appealed for improved access by and to Afghans most in need of health care. “Despite challenges of widespread insecurity, health workers have taken an oath on the holy Koran and risk their own lives to provide health care to every man, woman and child in Afghanistan.”

Dr N. Sivarajah, Coordinator of the WHO Jaffna Unit


Through years of conflict, Dr. Sivarajah has remained focused on one goal, “ I wanted to help save as many lives of the people as I could.” This was not always easy, especially in the highly sensitive situation. But through his dedication to work, he gained the trust of the people. He often traveled to rural areas, making assessments to highlight the problems of malnutrition especially among children.

Hyo-Jeong Kim, Technical Officer, Emergency and Humanitarian Action, Nepal


Hyo-Jeong Kim’s priority is clear: preparedness. Based in the capital, Kathmandu, she goes to the field at least once a month, training health workers in remote areas for contingency planning and emergency management. “Once the contingency plans are in place, this will save many lives in an emergency,” she says.

See how humanitarian health care is delivered

Previous event