Dame Claire Bertschinger

DBE DL DEd DSSc DSc (honoris causa) MSc RGN

Assistant Professor
Director for Diploma in Tropical Nursing

Room 306

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).

Prior to joining the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Claire worked as training officer in the Health Division of ICRC Geneva.

She now trains other medical professionals to work in resource poor settings and low to middle-income countries of the world and continually seeks 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.

Claire was honoured as Dame Commander of British Empire by the Queen in 2009 New Years Honours List, for services to Nursing and to International Humanitarian Aid. 

She was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire in 2012


Soka University (Japan) in 2019, Award of Highest Honor, “in recognition of her enduring contributions to the promotion of education, culture and the cause of world peace.”

Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion 2018, Honorary Fellow

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 

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

"Woman of the Year Window to the World"  2005, 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" 1991 “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 …”

"Bish Medal” by the  Scientific Exploration Society 1985 “for courage and determination in the face of adversity”.

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


Responsibilities include:

Patron St Clare Hospice

Vice President British Red Cross – Essex

Patron  of ‘Promise Nepal’ to eliminate Leprosy

Patron African Children’s Educational Trust 

Patron The Chocolate Run, for homeless in Harlow

Patron Buburi health Centre in Kenya

Soka Gakkai Buddhist Order vice Hertfordshire HQ leader

Scientific Exploration Society member Honorary Advisory Board

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”

Other references include:

LSHTM Women Leaders Insight 2018 Claire Bertscinger 

BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs interview 28th March 2014

Making a difference Claire Bertschinger Health Care and Peace Worker

Never at Rest  In this film Claire tries to make sense of years spent working in war zones.

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

Sunday Times July 2005 Interview: Deirdre Fernand meets Claire Bertschinger

BBC HARDtalk interview: 3rd January 2006 'Compassion Fatigue'  Stephen Sackur talks to former Red Cross nurse Claire Bertschinger 

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

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


Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Clinical Research


Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre