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 Strategic Advisory Group on Humanitarian Emergencies (IPA SAG HE) advocates on helping children in disasters through many 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 the disaster.

SAG Committee

• Karen Olness MD, Chair
• MahippathornChinnapha, MD
• RamziNasir MD
• Marisa Herran MD

History within the International Pediatric Association

The IPA has focused on the issues of children and disasters for more than 20 years. Education about the special needs of children and disasters, including workshops, has been part of every IPA Congress since 1998. The IPA has sponsored training workshops in many countries, including Haiti, Nepal, Laos, Syria, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Nigeria.For the past decade the IPA website has had a manual on "How to Help the Children in Humanitarian Emergencies" available for free download.

Future Plan of Action

Provision of guidelines to all pediatricians on the care of resettled children who have been refugees or internally displaced

This will require assistance from IPA constituent pediatric societies that already have such guidelines. Recognizing that guidelines might vary in different parts of the world, they should include information on nutritional issues, infectious diseases issues, school issues, how to identify and intervene in mental health problems and how to assist parents or other caretakers. The guidelines will be uploaded to the IPA website for free download.

Increased training in problem based learning workshops, focused on the special needs of children in humanitarian emergencies.

Faculty who are child health specialists and experienced in relief work exist and are eager to donate their time and expertise to expand the number of workshops. There is a new generation of young relief workers who have not had training about the specific needs of children who experience disasters.

Provision of Comfort Kits and guidelines for their use in all areas with displaced children

These comfort kits exist and have been used successfully in Thailand after the tsunami and in Haiti after the earthquake. They can be adapted to various cultures and languages. We plan to upload the guidelines for making these kits to the IPA website.

Provision of guidelines for relief workers on finding resources for displaced children with chronic illnesses

How and where do relief workers find needed medications, surgery, equipment, physical therapy, and needed specialists?

This goal requires assistance from pediatric societies in countries with displaced children and/or pediatric societies in nearby countries.

IPA Sponsored Kits for child health professionals who are isolated in disaster situations

Pediatricians in such settings, whether due to weather or man made disasters, have often requested kits with basic examining tools, books or flash drives (if they have computers in the disaster area), and basic medications. These may need to be dropped to them by helicopter. Ideally, such kits should be stored (and checked periodically) in earthquake, typhoon, and flood prone areas. IPA pediatrician representatives in designated countries could maintain and distribute such kits.

Adding More Disaster Preparedness Information to the IPA Website

This information should be available to pediatric societies, individual child health professionals and to families.

Resource Material

The IPA Website has a manual, "How to Help the Children in Humanitarian Emergencies" available for free download.

Another useful resource is the Sphere Handbook.

Comfort Kits And The Healing Buddies Comfort Kit To Help Children Affected By Humanitarian Emergencies

Skill Practices To Use With Comfort Kits

Reports on Recent Activities

The IPA sponsored a four day training workshop in Abuja, Nigeria in January 2018. 44 pediatricians attended; evaluations were excellent.

We have guidelines on preparation of comfort kits ready for upload to the IPA website.

We are currently planning workshops in Benin(in association with the UNAPSA meeting) and in Dubai (in association with the Arab Health meeting).