Last updated:

Humanitarian Fund

child having blood test

"Year on year, I am humbled hearing the stories of NHS staff who have given their time, skills and expertise, to work in low resource settings. The diversity and scale of projects is hugely impressive, from HIV programmes in Timor-Leste, to mental health care in Bangladesh.

"It is truly inspiring to see doctors showing a great drive, courage and enthusiasm to improve the lives of patients and populations in remote parts of the world."

Terry John
BMA International Committee chair

Established in 2001, the BMA Humanitarian Fund is designed to support and encourage the development of new initiatives, to help teams undertake humanitarian projects in low income countries.

Projects must offer clear health benefits to the local population, must involve at least one current NHS employee and should have a sustainable impact.

The grants will cover incidental costs such as travel and accommodation, but not equipment or drugs.

Applications for the Humanitarian Fund 2017 closed on 26 May 2017.


2016 recipients

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2016 Humanitarian Fund. Our interactive map shows you the location of last year's projects. 

  • Case studies

    James Farrant in India

    Cardiff specialty trainee 7 in anaesthesia James Farrant spent two weeks in Aurangabad, India as part of a 30-strong team of medics at the Northern Cleft Foundation cleft camp.

    Dr Farrant, who is normally based at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, assisted in treating patients with cleft palates as well as passing on knowledge and skills to local staff assisting with the project.

    The project, which took place in November last year, saw a total of 87 surgeries take place, with three to four theatres operating for almost 12 each day.

    Dr Farrant said: 'The staff saw more cleft cases in a two-week period than they would see in a year in the NHS. All of us take back this wealth of experience to share with colleagues round the country.'

    'The work was interesting and challenging. Children were generally underweight, intubations were sometimes difficult, surgery was long, and equipment was sometimes in short supply and basic.'

    Dr Farrant, who used the BMA Humanitarian Fund to help with expenses, added: 'The rewards came in waking the children up in recovery, and seeing them later on the ward with their parents eating, drinking and smiling. The sense of satisfaction leaving the hospital at the end of each day was great.'


    Mike Evans in Malawi

    Mike Evans has returned to the Billy Riordan Medical Trust in Malawi three times to support patients with HIV, as well as treating those affected by TB and malaria.

    Using the BMA Humanitarian Fund grant to fund his flights over to Malawi, Dr Evans said that despite the challenges of having to work with limited resources, he felt able to make a real difference to patients as well as gain important experience.

    He said: 'The HIV clinic is steadily growing with about 650 patients on antiretrovirals and 50 children born to HIV-positive mothers under follow-up.'

    'The ability to look after all aspects of a patients' care is very rewarding and builds trust. Many of my proudest achievements as a doctor have come from following up patients in Malawi over long periods of time.'

    He added: 'Working in this kind of environment has definitely improved my ability to cope with unfamiliar situations. You have to be able to think on your feet because you don't have the back-up of tests or specialist colleagues.'


  • Previous projects

    Here are some examples of projects which have been supported by the Humanitarian Fund.


    Ian Holtby - Malawi

    Listen to Cleveland retired public health consultant Ian Holtby talk about how he led a hand hygiene education programme for healthcare staff in Malawi.

    The programme is part of a partnership project between the James Cook University Hospital and Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi.


    Sally Louden - South Sudan

    Listen to Winchester GP Sally Louden speak of her work in improving family planning knowledge among healthcare professionals in South Sudan.

    She also explains why doctors should apply for a Humanitarian Fund grant.


    Barbara Jemec - Sierra Leone

    Listen to London consultant plastic surgeon Barbara Jemec describe her project.

    She was treating patients and educating doctors in surgical skills at the Holy Spirit Hospital in Masuba, Sierra Leone.


    More previous projects


  • Read the blog

    BMA's Head of international and immigration, Arthy Santhakumar has written a blog about the Humanitarian Fund.

    Read the blog