Injuries and surgical needs of children in conflict and disaster: From Boston to Haiti and beyond

Semin Pediatr Surg. 2016 Feb;25(1):23-31. doi: 10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2015.09.006. Epub 2015 Sep 21.


Comprehensive care of patients in conflict and disaster requires coordination of medical, social, and public health agencies. Pediatric patients in these settings comprise a particularly vulnerable group subject to disruption of social networks and separation from family, inadequate surgical care due to lack of surgeon, anesthetist, and nursing specialization, and a general lack of advocacy within the global public health agenda. In the recent upswell of attention to the global surgical burden of disease and deficiencies in necessary infrastructure, the needs of pediatric surgical patients remain underappreciated and underemphasized amid calls for improvement in global surgical health. Experience in recent natural and man-made disasters has demonstrated that pediatric patients makeup a significant proportion of those injured, and has perhaps refocused our need to better characterize the surgical needs of children in conflict and disaster. In addition to treat such patients, we recognize the unmet challenges of improving pediatric emergency and surgical infrastructures in the low- and middle-income country settings where conflict and disaster occur most often, and continuing to advocate for vulnerable children worldwide and keep them out of harm's way.

Keywords: Conflict medicine; Disaster; Pediatric surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health
  • Comprehensive Health Care / organization & administration
  • Comprehensive Health Care / standards*
  • Developed Countries*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Disaster Victims / rehabilitation
  • Disasters
  • Global Health
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Refugees
  • Warfare*
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*