Natural and complex disasters can cause a dramatic increase in the demand for emergency medical care. Local health services can be overwhelmed, and damage to clinics and hospitals can render them useless. Unfortunately, experience has shown that in the case of natural disasters field hospitals often have not met the expectations of recipients and donor institutions.
In July 2003, the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization sponsored the workshop "Hospitals in Disasters--Handle with Care." One of the subjects discussed was the pros and cons of using foreign field hospitals in the aftermath of natural disasters. These guidelines are part of the result of that working meeting