It would be impossible to provide a comprehensive resource here on addressing the immediate, basic health needs of an affected population in a crisis situation. Instead this page focuses on where to find useful information and guidance in such situations to address immediate, basic health care needs.

On this page:

  • Clinical manual for humanitarian work
  • Refugee health guidelines
  • ICRC Guide to First Aid in armed conflicts
  • Standard drugs guide
  • Sphere minimum standards on health
  • Further specialist health advice

General Clinical Manual for Humanitarian Emergencies

The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Clinical Guidelines are probably the most widely used general clinical manual in humanitarian emergencies. The MSF website is at and the page from which you can view or download the Guidelines is  (Once at that page you may have to hold your mouse-click down for a second or two to make the links work.  Also see the document menu here.)  See this summary of MSF reference books with contact information for ordering.


Refugee Health Guidelines

The MSF Guidelines on Refugee Health are widely used.  The web address is as above. 


ICRC Guide to First Aid in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Violence 

Newly published in 2006, this Guide is available here as a free download, or can be ordered in hard copy.  At nearly 300 pages, it looks pretty comprehensive.  It gives a lot of advice on preparedness and training, team leadership, stress management and the management of equipment and supplies - so it's a broader manual than many first aid guides.

If the link breaks, go to and search for "First Aid in Armed Conflicts" in the ICRC website.



MSF's "Essential Drugs" is a comprehensive guide to drugs used in humanitarian situations.  The web address is as above. 

The International Dispensary Association (IDA) is the world's largest non-profit drug supplier for developing countries. See their website for a list of essential drugs supplied by IDA and information on how to order them:


Sphere Minimum Standards

The Sphere Project, revised edition. Its full name is "Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Emergency Response". Contains detailed minimum standards for health provision in emergencies, agreed by a number of NGOs and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Go to and click on 'Handbook'.


Further Advice

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a wide range of specialist guides. The WHO website is at, where there is a Publications link.

UNICEF publishes a range of health publications. The publications section of the UNICEF website is at

The Reproductive Health Response in Conflict Consortium provides some helpful technical resources and links at

RedR-International Health Exchange (RedR/IHE) advertises jobs monthly and brings out a quarterly publication, "The Health Exchange": see

Field Exchange - a nutrition/health publication of the Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN). Articles from the field, research and evaluation findings relevant to the emergency food, nutrition and health sectors. It's at

Public Health in Crisis-Affected Populations - a practical guide for decision-makers published by the Humanitarian Practice Network at the Overseas Development Institute in London. It's under the Publications section at


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Tags: Health