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Humanitarian Fund 2019

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Are you planning a humanitarian project in a low-income country?

The BMA Humanitarian Fund provides grants to cover travel and accommodation for individuals and multidisciplinary teams undertaking projects with a sustainable impact on local health.

Established in 2004, our 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 and have a sustainable impact. All projects must be led by a registered health professional in good standing with their regulator and who is employed within the UK’s public healthcare system.

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

BMA members and non-members are welcome to apply for the fund. 

Applications for 2019 are now closed and all successful applicants have been informed. Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 Humanitarian Fund!

Please check the BMA website for details of the Humanitarian Fund in April 2020, when we hope to run the fund again.


Terry John, BMA international committee chairTaken May 2017"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


  • Apply for funding

    Who can apply?

    Any registered health professional in good standing with their regulator who is employed within the UK’s public healthcare system, including the NHS, Local Authorities and government and arm’s-length bodies. 

    Projects must take place between July 2019 and July 2020 to be eligible for this funding round.

    Please note that projects can receive a Humanitarian Fund grant a maximum of two times.

    Download the application form 


    What is the deadline?

    The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday 17 May 2019.

    Applicants will find out if they have been awarded funding by 5 July 2019 (this date may change depending on the volume of applications we receive so please check back regularly). 

    Funding is normally dispersed to successful applicants in August - September. 

  • Blogs and podcast

    As we celebrate the BMA Humanitarian Fund's 15th year, Arielle Nylander, BMA's senior policy advisor on global health, reflects on the importance of supporting projects to improve maternal and child health. 

    Read the blog

    Listen to our Doctors' notes podcast on working abroad. In this episode, we hear about an anaesthetist who restores the sight of a young boy in Mongolia, a junior doctor who provides life saving treatment in a South African village, and a GP recounts her experience of training in the UAE.

  • Winners from 2018

    See where the Humanitarian Fund 2018 helped people

    Adama Martha Memorial Community Health Centre   Sierra Leone
    Humanities and arts in preventing pre-eclampsia  Ethiopia
    Developing spinal cord injury rehabilitation services    Madagascar
    Increase in knowledge and skills of international and national healthcare providers in routine and emergency obstetric and newborn care  Ethiopia
    Increasing entrants to postgraduate anaesthesia training   Zambia 
    Paediatric trauma and surgery in low resource settings  Myanmar
    Health partnership scheme between UK multi-disciplinary  maternity team and tertiary maternity hospital  Sierra Leone
    Nurse-led intervention to improve care of patients with non-communicable diseases using disease specific triage investigation bundles  Myanmar
    Provision of technical assistance for the expansion of Sierra Leone's paediatric oncology service  Sierra Leone
    Lusaka Link: towards safer radiotherapy  Zambia


  • Previous projects

    Dr Rob Daniels - Bringing telemedicine to ENT patients in rural Kibuye, Rwanda (2017)

    In Rwanda there is a critical shortage of ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialists, and most patients have to travel up to 2 days to the capital city, Kigali, for assessment as the level of ENT skills and knowledge in primary care is low.

    On this trip we installed telemedicine equipment and trained primary care staff at the first of four planned sites in each of the provinces.Humanitarian Fund Rwanda - New case studies16x9 cropOnly to be used relating to the Humanitarian Fund 2018

    Each province will ultimately get a laptop and otoscope, and will be linked with a senior registrar or consultant in the capital to triage electronic advice requests, review images and provide case conferencing for patients in the community.

    When we arrived at our site in the Western province we found that, although the district hospital serves over 1 million people and there is a high prevalence of middle ear disease in the area, it was completely lacking basic equipment such as otoscopes and ophthalmoscopes. Fortunately, we had a spare that we were able to leave behind.

    Over the course of the trip, we taught over 40 doctors and nurses, giving lectures to the medical and nursing teams on common primary care ear conditions, red flags and management tips. Our experience in Rwanda has also translated into innovative ideas for improving care closer to home.

    As a result of this experience, we are now bidding for funds to purchase similar equipment for practices in East Devon to run an otology advice service. If successful, this would have significant benefits for isolated populations such as the highlands and islands, and would reduce demand for face-to-face appointments and waiting times.


    Dr Michelle Mohajer - Bridging the gap in maternal healthcare in Kathmandu, Nepal (2017)

    In rural Nepal, only 55% of women receive any antenatal care, and only 32% have skilled assistance during childbirth. The figures are even lower in the most remote Himalayan areas, where neonatal mortality rate has not significantly improved in the last 10 years.

    Frontline healthcare staff in these areas are professionally isolated, so periodic additional skills training is extremely important.

    Our training course is delivered in partnership with the charity PHASE (Practical Help Achieving Self-Empowerment), which works to reduced poverty on a sustainable basis in Himalayan mountain villages through education and livelihoods for local people. Humanitarian Fund  - new case studies

    PHASE training programmes produce a pool of highly skilled health workers who provide leadership in remote public healthcare centres.

    In 2017, we delivered a one-week training to a cohort of 50 Auxiliary Nurse Midwives(ANMs), which will impact an estimated 90,000 patient contacts in these remote areas.

    The course covered haemorrhage, twins, breech delivery, shoulder dystocia, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, maternal and neonatal resuscitation, and perineal repair, with a focus on emergencies.

    ANMs completed a pre- and post-course assessment, which demonstrated their significant skills and knowledge improvement by the end of the week. We anticipate returning to Nepal in 2018 to work towards a Train the Trainers course, which would remove any communication/language issues and ensure long-term sustainability.


    Dr Emily Clark - Improving neo-natal survival in Velondriake, Madagascar (2017)

    The remote coastal communities in southwest Madagascar are among the poorest, most under-served parts of the country. The neonatal mortality rate here is 17/1000 live births; 12% is due to birth asphyxia. These neonatal deaths account for 40% of under-5 mortality. Ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 by 2030 is a key target of the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Health care in this area is provided by small governmental primary healthcare centres staffed by one nurse or midwife, with few diagnostic and treatment options.

    Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) is a training programme that provides health workers with the skills to resuscitate babies who do not breathe at birth. It has been designed by the American Academy of Paediatrics specifically for use in low-resource settings. Approximately one in ten newborns needs a simple but lifesaving intervention at birth, such as stimulation and ventilation. Humanitarian Fund Madagascar - New case studies - Neo Natal16x9 cropOnly to be used relating to the Humanitarian Fund 2018

    In 2016, with the support of the Ministry of Health, and the marine conservation NGO, Blue Ventures, who have well-established infrastructure in this remote area, we delivered HBB training and provided essential equipment to the health workers in six remote governmental primary healthcare facilities. It was the first time they had had access to essential equipment, such as a bag-valve mask and manual suction, or received practical training on neonatal resuscitation.

    Ten months later, in 2017, we returned to assess health workers’ knowledge and competency in practical skills, provide refresher training, and train the new health workers in the area.

    We also took the opportunity to learn from local health workers and to improve and adapt the training to the local context. Refresher training proved extremely valuable and we are now working with local NGOs and the regional Ministry of Health to develop a sustainable solution for ongoing training and support.


    Ian Holtby - Malawi (2013)

    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 (2013)

    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 (2013)

    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.


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