WHO-PAHO Guidelines for the Use of Foreign Field Hospitals


Disasters, whether natural or complex, can outstrip the capacity of the local health system to provide the required care, either because of a massive number of casualties or as a result of damage to healthcare infrastructure. As a consequence, both affected and collaborating countries try to find ways to facilitate medical care to the affected population. One potential solution could be a mobile field hospital, yet there have been mixed reports regarding the cost-effectiveness of such efforts, particularly in developing countries.

These perceived shortcomings prompted the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization to convene a meeting of experts to review guidelines regarding when it is appropriate to dispatch or donate a foreign field hospital. Presented in a clear, easy-to-consult format, the 20-page guidelines outline essential requirements and additional, or optional criteria for field hospitals used for emergency medical care during the first 48 hours; for follow-up trauma and medical care up to two weeks after the disaster; and for donated facilities that can remain on site for several years. The guidelines also pose questions to ask and issues to clarify before a field hospital is dispatched or accepted. The highlights of these guidelines also have been incorporated into a brochure for widespread distribution.

A limited number of print copies of the guidelines is available from the Editor at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Request the brochure at the same address or download the full-text of both at www.paho.org/disasters (click on Publications Catalog).


Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

525 23rd Street, N.W. - Washington, D.C. 20037, U.S.A.
202.974.3399 - Fax 202.775.4578 - disaster@paho.org - www.paho.org/disasters