Introducing: our five year strategy

Everyone should get the healthcare they need when disasters hit. Right now, millions don’t. This is our plan to change that.

We developed our 2021-26 strategy over the past year with input and insight from staff, members and supporters. It’s an ambitious plan as we set to meet the increasing need that we’re seeing year upon year, and one that’s only made possible thanks to our fantastic members and supporters.

We hope you enjoy reading. Thank you for being a part of the journey with us.

Download the full strategy, or explore key insights below:

Our vision

A world where everyone has the healthcare they need when crises or disasters hit.

Our mission

We save lives in emergencies. When health services are overwhelmed, we get expert health staff to where they’re needed fast. We help communities prepare for future crises.


million people worldwide will need aid assistance in 2021.


disasters triggered by natural hazards in 2019, 77% of which were climate and weather related - six times greater than in the 1970s.


thousands lives have been lost because of weather and climate related disasters in the last decade alone.

The situation we’re facing

Disease outbreaks, the climate emergency and conflict are hurting millions of people each year. And that number is growing. It’s a global health emergency that affects us all, but the poorest are the hardest hit.

COVID-19 won’t be the last pandemic

An interconnected world means disease outbreaks can now spread more quickly than ever before. Even before COVID-19, the WHO had declared five Global Health Emergencies in the past decade alone.

Outbreaks have a disastrous impact on families, societies, support systems and economies. The effects stretch beyond the lives tragically lost. Health services are unable to cope, schooling is disrupted, and every day livelihoods are put at risk. Vaccines are only part of the solution. Preparing is key.

Learn more about our COVID-19 response >

“The world has reached a fork in the road. We cannot afford to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the same rate and still breathe clean air. We must choose... Today and every day, we must choose health.”

– WHO Secretary General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, November 2020

Climate emergency: the siren is sounding

Storms, floods and droughts have tripled over the past 30 years. These events cause damage, but also make existing crises worse. Communities are locked in perpetual rebuild.

Just like with COVID-19, these events are not confined to poor countries. As wildfires and floods hit rich countries, there are less resources available globally and there’s more pressure on international assistance as aid budgets are cut. The aid system is already creaking under the strain – with not enough funding, people or goods to help those in need. Urgent change is needed.

Learn more about our climate crisis report >

Conflict and fragile states

Conflict continues to be the biggest cause of humanitarian need. Aside from those injured and killed by violence, conflict means people are less able to access health services.

Those at greatest risk are those who live in refugee camps, which are vulnerable to disease outbreaks and extreme weather events. Many of those who flee conflict are the most educated, including health workers, who may never return after finding opportunities and safety abroad. This leaves the countries to face decades of hardship as they attempt to replace these skilled workers.

Not only must we act to save lives and help those in immediate need. We must continue to support countries to rebuild national health workforces.

Learn more about our work in Yemen >

Case study:

“If you save mothers, you save the nation”

Hear from Brenda as she talks about the impact of the training:

South Sudan has seen enormous levels of violence and unrest during its eight-year civil war. The war has forced millions of people from their homes, brought the healthcare structure to its knees, and left many without access to basic necessities. Human rights abuses, including gender-based violence, have been rife.

Because of the shortage of healthcare professionals, a mother in South Sudan is 87 times more likely to die in childbirth than a mother in the UK, and her baby 24 times less likely to reach the age of five.

In 2019, UK-Med’s team arrived in Kapoeta in south-west South Sudan to provide training for healthcare workers that improved their knowledge and skills around sexual and reproductive health. neonatal, obstetric and gender-based violence training. Brenda was one of the dedicated, dynamic and passionate midwives we worked with.

“These skills that we receive – it is going to bring good impact. We are here to save life. And as you save mothers, you save the nation. If mother’s die, there is no nation,” Brenda said. “I believe it is a very good idea to form up this team and come and give the skills needed to reduce maternal and neonatal death.”

After the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we plan to return to South Sudan to follow up with those we trained and deliver a Training of Trainers session to ensure a lasting impact and extend our reach.

Small charity, big impact

Since early 2020, our teams have worked alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministries of Health around the world to help deal with COVID-19. With the pandemic still affecting millions around the world, this work has been vital. Our teams have been, and will continue to:

support health care workers with protection and training;

empower communities to manage their own risks and fight misinformation;

keep health services going and support vaccination campaigns;

keep caring for patients and work to reach displaced people living in refugee camps who have limited access to healthcare.

Priority 1.


We will respond rapidly to emergencies, delivering the expertise needed to support local health services and save people’s lives. Learn more here >

Over the next five years, we will:


Be ready to respond to 25 health and humanitarian crises over the next five years.


Deliver the expertise needed to support local health services and treat 20,000 patients.

Priority 2.


National health staff in a country hit by disaster can save the most lives, but more investment in training and support is required. Learn more here >

Over the next five years, we will:


Provide face-to-face training to 5,000 health staff to strengthen response skills.


Provide remote training and support for an additional 25,000 health staff.

UK EMT nurse Trish McCready trains intensive care nurses at Armenia’s Surb Grigor Lusarovich hospital.

Case study:

Remote support for healthcare staff in Lebanon

On 4 August 2020, Beirut was rocked by a huge explosion that killed over 200 people and injured thousands.

In the chaos, physical distancing and patient separation disintegrated, and subsequently, COVID-19 cases rocketed – rising by 180% – following the explosion. Prior to this, Lebanon had experienced relatively low case numbers and many local healthcare staff had little experience dealing with critical cases of the virus.

After experiencing a devastating first wave of COVID-19 in Italy earlier that year, Italian doctors were well-placed to share their experiences and learnings with Lebanon healthcare staff. Unfortunately, because of global travel constraints, many international ICU doctors were unable to reach Lebanon. We set up webinars for clinical case discussions between local Lebanese ICU doctors and Italian doctors who had extensive experience with COVID-19.

Additionally, throughout UK-Med’s eight-month response in Lebanon, we arranged weekly webinars between medical residents in the supported hospitals and the international deployed staff. Because residents in Lebanese public hospitals do not have access to formal didactic education, this filled a vital gap at a convenient time.

Building on this success, we are continuing to work with partners to offer this service worldwide. We believe virtual support will be vital for building the capacity of national actors to be able to respond better in the future.

Priority 3.


The aid system needs to become more effective and better informed to keep pace with the scale of the challenge. Learn more here >

Over the next five years, we will:


Support and promote 10 academic papers and two policy papers.


Help create two changes in the aid system due to our work or research.

How we’ll do it

UK-Med’s work depends on having great people in the right roles achieving their full potential. Our responses range from individuals right up to a surgical Field Hospital staffed by 60 clinicians. This is only possible through:

our core team, who provide ongoing programme development, preparedness and support functions;

our logistic team's specialisms in WASH, field and medical logistics, pharmacy and supply chain;

our highly specialist healthcare team with a wealth of expertise;

our register of hundreds of NHS medics who are rigorously trained for emergencies along with our global network of health professionals, enabling us to get to disaster zones at 24 hours’ notice.

Your compassion counts

We know we can’t do it alone. There are three ways you can save lives in emergencies:

Help us act fast. Your one-off or regular gift to our response fund will help us respond rapidly to unpredictable emergencies.

If you share our values, let’s talk. Building long-term partnerships with other organisations is the only way we’ll achieve our mission.

Use your voice, donate your time, connect with your community and spread the word. Use your passion and inspire others to build a world where everyone gets the healthcare they need when crises or disasters hit.

Health is a global right

Jessie’s story

In November 2019, a devastating measles outbreak ripped through the tiny Polynesian island of Samoa. UK-Med sent a team of 26 medics for four weeks to support the local medical teams who were working around the clock in a desperate attempt to treat the sick.

Jesse was sixteen months old when he was admitted to the paediatric ward at the main hospital in Apia. Normally Jesse was a happy, smiley baby, fascinated by glasses. But just before Christmas, he became one of the 5,655 people who caught measles during the outbreak.

He was receiving treatment and enjoying cuddles from the staff, when on Christmas Day he suddenly took a sharp turn for the worse. As he struggled to breathe and rapidly deteriorated, our team were there to help. The team were on hand to resuscitate him and treat him on the High Dependency Unit where he could be carefully monitored.

Thanks to the expert care he received and the love and support of his family, Jesse survived, and his mother Monika was grateful to be able to take him home. She expressed her thanks to the teams who supported the Samoan national staff throughout the outbreak:

“They are always friendly and smiling and always asking how we are and trying to make the babies laugh. They have served us good. We will miss you.”

In Samoa, our teams were able to care for over 500 children like Jesse, so they were able to return home with their families. We believe that health is a global right, and that everyone should have they need when crises or disasters hit, just like Jesse.

A huge thank you to Jessie’s family for sharing their story.


Paediatric nurse Becky Platt checks a girl for symptoms of Diphtheria in the Kutapalong refugee camp, Bangladesh as part of the UK Emergency Medical Team (Credit: Russell Watkins, Department for International Development) |  Woman and her baby sit in makeshift home in displaced persons camp in Juba, South Sudan, 2012 (Credit: Vlad Karavaev, Shutterstock) | Young boy being carried through the Kutapalong refugee camp, Bangladesh (Credit: Russell Watkins, Department for International Development) | Boys play in the rubble in Taiz City, which has been devastated by the ongoing conflict in Yemen, 2018 (Credit: anasalhajj, Shutterstock) | Nurse Trish McCready talking to an Armenian Critical Care nurse via an interpreter in late 2020 | ICU Nurse Rowena worked with local healthcare staff following the Beirut Blast in Lebanon in August 2020 (Credit: Daniella Ritzau-Reid) | Doctor Rebecca Inglis conducting a training session in Armenia in late 2020 | Maeve Tohill with patient Jesse during the measles response in Samoa, 2019.