Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS)


The demand for better coordination and standardization among humanitarian responders is heard during and after every major international disaster. A March 2011 Global Health Cluster Report, called for by the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) in the wake of recent large-scale disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and the Indian Ocean Tsunami, revealed unacceptable practices and questions concerning the competencies of some Foreign Medical/Surgical Teams (FMTs/FSTs), prompting the international community to call for "greater accountability, stringent oversight, better coordination, professionalism and registry of certified providers, especially in health services."[1]

In November 2011, this call to action galvanized North American universities and NGOs with training programs in humanitarian health to form the Professional Association of Academic Training Centers in Humanitarian Health (PAATCHH) to address the need for greater professionalization of the humanitarian workforce, promote the rigorous implementation of evidence-based practice, and foster a culture of innovation and knowledge dissemination. PAATCHH is committed to strengthening the long-standing and rich collaboration between its constituent members and their partners in the global south through an exchange of personnel, ideas, and resources.

[1] Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2011). Coordination and registration of providers of foreign medical teams in humanitarian response to sudden-onset disasters: A Health Cluster Concept Paper. Retrieved March 9, 2011 from http://www.who.int/hac/global_health_cluster/about/policy_strategy/en/