Dame Claire Bertschinger

DBE DL DEd DSSc DSc (honoris causa) MSc RGN

Assistant Professor
Director for Diploma in Tropical Nursing

Room 362a

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7927 2627
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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.


Claire was honoured as Dame Commander of British Empire by the Queen in 2010 New Years Honours List, for services to Nursing and to International Humanitarian Aid. She was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire in 2012

She was awarded 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

MSc in Medical Anthropology Brunel University 1997

BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs interview 2014

Five formidable women who shaped the Red Cross - 23rd March 2012

Voted one of 10 most influential female nurses of all time 10th June 2012

Voted one of top 20 most influential people in the nursing field in September 2010

In 2007 she received International Human Rights and Nursing Awards, from the International Centre for Nursing Ethics (ICNE).

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" by British Red Cross (“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”.

Claire Bertschinger has worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross as a nurse in over a dozen war zones across the world including Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Lebanon and Afghanistan.  Since retiring from full time field work, she has trained other medical professionals to work in resource poor settings and continually sought to raise awareness of the key issues in global public health. Increasingly, Claire has become convinced of the centrality of education,  particularly of women ,  in making and sustaining any improvements.

Patron  of ‘Promise Nepal’

Patron of African Children’s Educational Trust 

Patron for 'The Chocolate Run' Helping the homeless in Harlow

Claire is a Chapter leader for Soka Gakkai International

Making a difference Claire Bertschinger Health Care and Peace Worker

Never at Rest

Global Issues Conference April 2011  ‘Making Humanity the Highest Priority’

Sunday Times July 2005 Interview: Deirdre Fernand meets Claire Bertschinger

HARDtalk intervie with Stephen Sackur, 3rd January 2006

Ethiopia: A Journey with Michael Buerk 11th January 2004 In this film Michael travels back to Ethiopia and talks to many people whose lives have been permanently scarred by the horrific famine, featuring Claire Bertschinger

Audio file with BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour

Heavens, Andrew (2005-01-29). "Journey from famine to the hunger of the soul". London: The Times.


Published her biography “Moving Mountains” 2005 by Transworld publishers & 2006 Bantam Publishers

Janine di Giovanni, (author of Madness Visible: A Memoir of War)  “It was Claire Bertschinger, who brought the world’s attention to the starvation in Ethiopia. If not for her, there would have been no BBC cameras, no Live Aid, no Bob Geldorf, and no outpouring of compassion and camaraderie that restored one’s faith in humanity, if only for a few minutes. Bertschinger’s courage is matched only by her conviction; her tireless effort to comfort the hungry and dying (her biography ‘Moving Mountains’) is a beautiful story that needed to be told and, more importantly, needs to be read”

” Bob Geldof  said “In her was vested the power of life and death, she had become God-like, and that is unbearable for anyone”.

Michael Buerk wrote: Claire’s biography ‘Moving Mountains’ “The story of the woman who inspired Live Aid, one of the true heroines of our time. Claire is the dyslexic tomboy who grew up to spend her life patching up humanity’s self-inflicted wounds, working with the wounded, the sick and the dying, in the battlefields and famine camps of the late twentieth century; a life often lived beyond breaking point that threatened to destroy her. An ordinary woman who did extraordinary things and really did move mountains”



Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Clinical Research


Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre