Introduction to the subject area

A natural disaster or an outbreak of natural catastrophes, war or violence can turn lives upside down in an instant, killing or driving millions of people from their homes, devastating communities. When catastrophe strikes, most of the affected are children (50%-60%). In the last decade of the twentieth century, children affected by the disaster dramatically increased. Large disaster in 2004 and 2005, such as man-made disasters in Sudan and the Republic of Congo and the natural disasters of the Asian tsunami and hurricane Katrina and 2013 typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, are examples of how disaster can strike with no warning. Half of the individuals living in many disaster settings are under 15 years of age, and morbidity and mortality in disasters are highest for children under 5 years of age.

Reports from UNICEF 2014 has highlighted main focus area of affected children currently;


  • 7.3 million children affected by the conflict
  • 1.7 million child refugees
  • 35 attacks on schools in the first 9 months of the year
  • 105 children killed
  • 300 injured


  • 128,000 internally displaced children
  • 36 children killed
  • Over a 100 injured


  • 54, 000 children left homeless in Gaza
  • 538 children killed
  • 3,370 injured


  • EVD ravaging parts of West Africa has left several children traumatized & orphaned in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
  • About 5 million children have been out of school for about six months.
  • Thousands of children have lost one or both parents to the disease

International Pediatric Association Technical Advisory Group on Humanitarian Emergencies (IPA TAG HE) advocates on helping children in disasters through may ways including, educating child health colleagues about the special needs of children in disasters throughout the world. The group is composed of Specialists from different countries of different nationalities who shared common ideas and knowledge to pursue their passion in advocacy for the benefits of children in disaster.

Technical Advisor & Committee




Saleh AlSalehi, MD - Chair

Saudi Arabia

Marisa Herran, MD, Co Chair


Srivieng Pairojkul, MD


Mao Meng, MD


Ejaz Ahmed, MD


Marie-Claude Bottimeau, MD


Angela Okolo, MD


Dr. Milagros Martin de Pumarejo, MD

Puerto Rico

Karen Olness, MD


Area of Focus

The TAG HE prioritizes helping children and their families in disaster times through training of professionals and active participation in rescue missions on volunteer basis.

  1. Facilitate education of child health providers on how to help children in humanitarian emergencies.
  2. Guide pediatric colleagues in disaster areas to deal with children and their families.
  3. To do assessments of child status in large humanitarian emergencies and make recommendations to the IPA on appropriate responses.
Why it is important for IPA to have this area as a program area?

In disaster setting, well meaning workers often lack of child health or development expertise. People throughout the world emphasize that "Children are the future" at same time, adult policy makers often do not know that the brains of young children develop most rapidly in the first year of life and that most brain development is completed by age three. It is these very young children who are the most helpless, the most vulnerable, and the least able to communicate what they need, and yet are at the greatest risk of suffering irreversible brain injury in disaster situations.

IPA IAGHE has committed to help children and their families and disaster areas to minimize the psychosocial effects on children.

TAG HE program activities were already done in some of the countries, especially in the countries were affected by natural or man-made disaster. The IPA will be able to help the children in disaster thru TAG HE who imparted knowledge to the child healthcare professionals throughout the world.

History within the IPA

This task force was established 15 years ago and was working in different non-governmental organization and conducting multiple activities including visiting and assisting health care professional and disaster areas.

Program Activities

1. Engagements of many professionals and attract attention of officials and non officials on the importance and the urgent needs of children involved in humanitarian emergencies.

2. Organized four workshops in collaboration with different international governments and non governments agencies including: Haiti in March 2011, a workshop on The Psychosocial Needs of Children in Disasters, a workshop, organized in collaboration with the Lao University of Health Sciences and Khon Kaen University in Thailand, the Melbourne ICP 2013 workshop (report attached) and "Psychosocial issues of Children and Relief Workers after disasters" in the Philippines (report attached).

3. The TAG also has a long list of teaching modules which can be shared and implemented globally.

4. Published a manual on helping children and their families in humanitarian emergencies in three languages (sponsored by Health Frontiers)

Future Plan of action
  1. Organize two training workshops (in Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and one at the ICP2016 Vancouver, Canada.

  2. Establish database of specialists in the field and establish an electronic communication venue, Facebook page, website or a discussion forum.

  3. Establish IPA TAG-HE rapid assessment team for child status in large humanitarian emergencies.

  4. Actively participate in the international NGO events and activities in the field of helping children and disasters.

Establish Standby consultative team of child health professionals with expertise in how to help children in disasters and also to help pediatric colleagues who are themselves victims of disasters.


Latest Event:

IPA Congress

Melbourne, Australia

August 2013

Around 40 people attended the workshop on helping children and their families in disaster time

Reports from the Various Activities




March 2011

A Workshop on

"The Psychological Needs of Children in Disasters"


In collaboration with the Haitian Pediatric Society, and was funded by the IPA and Health Frontiers. All faculty were volunteers. Participants included 21 Haitian pediatricians, 15 child psychologists and 5 social workers.

Done (Evaluations were excellent)

A workshop organized in collaboration with

"Lao University of Health Sciences" and "KhonKaen University"


It was also funded by the IPA and Health Frontiers. The workshop director was Dr. SriviengPairojkul, who brought volunteer faculty from KhonKaen University to Vientiane Laos where the workshop was conducted. Forty three Lao physicians from nine provinces in Laos attended the five day workshop.

Done (Evaluations were excellent)

August 25, 2013

"Humanitarian Emergencies TAG Meeting"

ICP 2013

Melbourne, Australia



Nicki Murdock


Helen Mead




Myrto Schaefer


Alexandra Brown


Christian Harkensee


Daniel Martinez Garcia


Mao Meng




Marisa Herran


Ejaz Ahmed


Saleh Alsalehi

Saudi Arabia

Marie-Claude Bottimeau


Joshua A. Owa


Participants emphasized that the special needs of children in disasters are still not sufficiently recognized. They provided several examples related to their observations in Pakistan and in Nigeria during disasters. Dr. Herran also summarized the current plans for professionalization of relief workers. This is led by a group in England and by a university consortium in the US.

(Please see attached for more reports)





January 2014

"Psychosocial Workshop"

Manila, Philippines

The workshop was organized over a period of five weeks and most planning was accomplished via emails between Drs. Ribaya and Olness. A final planning face to face meeting was held in Manila on January 15 with Drs. Ribaya, Olness, Lopez,Madrid, San Agustin, Holsinger, Esmaili and Ms. Barrera and Ms. Tica.

69 persons attended the workshop. 20 had to be turned down for lack of space to accommodate more small groups. Participants represented over ten organizations and at least five provinces in the Philippines. Most moving and enlightening were the presentations by participants who had personally experienced typhoon Yolanda and those who were relief workers in the aftermath.

(Please see attached for more reports)


1. IPA TAG HE Aug 25 2013 Melbourne


   2. Psychosocial Workshop Report Philippines