Dame Claire Bertschinger DBE DL DEd DSSc DSc (honoris causa) MSc RGN
Claire Bertschinger is the Course Director for the Diploma in Tropical Nursing and remains passionately committed to issues in the developing world.
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Following on from a successful nursing career in the UK, Claire's first post abroad was as a medic for the Scientific Exploration Society in Panama Papua New Guinea and Sulawesi. She went on to accumulate vast experience from many years working in emergency disaster relief, primarily in war zones, with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). She has worked in over a dozen countries including Afghanistan, Kenya, Lebanon, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia. Prior to joining the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Claire worked as training officer in the Health Division of ICRC Geneva.
She was awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal in recognition of her work in conflict situations, gained a Masters in Medical Anthropology, and has published her biography Moving Mountains (Transworld, 2005) to critical acclaim.She has subsequently received Woman of the Year, Window to the World award, Human Rights and Nursing Award and Honorary Doctorate's from:
Anglia Ruskin University 2012, Doctor in Health Sciences
Stafford University in 2011
Robert Gordon Aberdeen University in 2010, Doctor in Education
Du Montfort University in 2009, Doctor of Science
Brunel University 2008, in Social Science
She is a trustee for the African Children's Educational Trust (www.a-cet.org) and Patron for Promise Nepal (www.promisenepal.org.uk) travelling world-wide raising awareness and funds for charity. She is also a regular voluntary worker with Age UK (www.ageuk.org.uk). She is contracted part time here at the school. She also gives motivational talks based on her life experiences with the aim of inspiring people to create value and make a difference to our planet. (www.jla.co.uk)
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Press release January 2010
Claire Bertschinger, Director of Tropical Nursing Studies, has been made a Dame in the 2009 New Year Honours List for services to Nursing and to International Humanitarian Aid. She has provided nursing care in some of the harshest environments around the world and was the inspiration for Bob Geldof to organise the Band Aid charity and Live Aid.
Claire said, “I am most honoured to be appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s 2010 Honours List, which has come as an enormous surprise to me. I am deeply moved to be receiving it in recognition of my many and varied nursing endeavours over the years. Since retiring from field-work, I have trained other medical professionals to work in resource poor settings and have continually sought to raise awareness of the key issues in global public health. Increasingly, I have become convinced of the centrality of education in making and sustaining any improvements in the developing world.
It is therefore my most sincere wish that in receiving this award, I will be able to raise further awareness of the need for education in resource poor settings. It has been shown that for women in particular, increased education not only radically improves their own health, but also that of their families and children. The empowerment of women, educationally and economically, is a major weapon in the fight against child mortality in the developing world.
I should just like to thank all of my family, friends and colleagues who have supported me in many wonderful and varied ways over the years and who have added immeasurable value to my life. I am deeply grateful for my experiences as a nurse, whether joy-filled or painful, and in accepting this most prestigious award I hereby renew my continued commitment to increase female education and independence, in the drive to eradicate poverty and ill-health in the developing world.”
Many newspapers picked up on the news. The Independent honoured “Third World heroine: Dr Claire Bertschinger and said, “Swiss-born Dr Claire Bertschinger first came to prominence in Britain during the Ethiopian famine of 1984, when she appeared in the BBC news report compiled by Michael Buerk that inspired Bob Geldof to launch the Band Aid appeal.
At the time she was working as a nurse for the International Red Cross, deciding among other things which handful of the thousands of children who came to the charity's two food stations each day would be fed. Before that she had worked in countries from Lebanon to Panama and Papua New Guinea, and afterwards she went on to treat the sick in Uganda, Sudan and Sierra Leone.
She now lectures at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and has written about her experiences in war zones in her book Moving Mountains, donating part of the money from her book to charity.
She won the Florence Nightingale medal in 1991, in 2005 she was made Women of the Year and 2007 received the Human Rights in Nursing Award from the International Centre for Human Rights and Nursing Ethics. She has Honarary Doctorate from Brunel and De Montfort Univeristy's
"The award of DBE to Claire Bertschinger is a testament to her sustained commitment to improving the health of disadvantaged people around the world," comments Professor Sir Andrew Haines, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "Her key role in the formation of 'Live Aid' is nationally and internationally recognised. It has resulted in the mobilisation of major additional resources to address the health needs of the poorest as well as raising public awareness of the human cost of poverty and its attendant ill-health. Under her leadership the course leading to the Diploma of Tropical Nursing has gone from strength to strength. It has been an outstanding success in preparing large numbers of nurses to make significant contributions to world health. Both personally and on behalf of the School I am delighted to see her extraordinary achievements recognised in this way."
Five formidable women who shaped the Red Cross - 23rd March 2012 http://blogs.redcross.org.uk/uk/2012/03/five-formidable-women-who-shaped-the-red-cross/
Voted one of 10 most influential female nurses of all time 10th June 2012 http://scrubsmag.com/10-most-influential-female-nurses-of-all-time/
Voted one of top 20 most influential people in the nursing field in September 2010 http://mastersinnursingonline.com/2010/top-20-most-influential-people-in-the-nursing-field/
In 2007 she received International Human Rights and Nursing Awards, from the International Centre for Nursing Ethics (ICNE).http://www.surrey.ac.uk/fhms/research/centres/icne/events/ICNE%20Human%20Rights%20and%20Nursing%20Awards/index.htm
In 2005 she was awarded "Woman of the Year Window to the World" award (citation: Saluting a woman whose dedication to her work, often in demanding and difficult circumstances, has opened all our eyes to a world we otherwise would not have known about or even tried to understand.)
In 1991 awarded "Florence Nightingale Medal" (“to honour those persons who have distinguished themselves in times of war by exceptional courage and devotion to the wounded, sick or disabled or to civilian victims of conflict or disaster …”)
In 1985 she was awarded the "Bish Medal” by the Scientific Exploration Society “for courage and determination in the face of adversity”.