World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day

by Savitha C Muppala on  May 6, 2008 at 3:58 PM Health In Focus
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May 8, 2008

"There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed."
                             --Woodrow T. Wilson

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is celebrated on May 8th every year. On this day, the world teams up to celebrate the birthday of Henry Dunant, the founder of the largest humanitarian movement in the world, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. There can be no better theme for the year other than 'Together for Humanity'-- a powerful and apt reflection of the ethos of this glorious and compassionate organization.

Red Cross and Crescent For Humanity

The day is in remembrance of this movement's undying effort to alleviate human suffering of any kind, be it during natural disasters, diseases, or even war, with a motive to re-establish hope and dignity in human lives.

An organization where 'discrimination' is considered a dirty word, the Red Cross has managed to weave 'sensitivity to human suffering' into its moral fabric. It is almost as if the Red Cross is an omnipresent outfit. Even before the truth of an earth- shattering disaster sinks in, the Red Cross has kick started its network to uplift people in the throes of the disaster. What could be the abiding vision of this force

Red Cross Vision

The International Committee of the Red Cross, through its initiatives, positively impacts the life of about 250 million people. The organization seeks to:

1. Mitigate the impact of injury and death due to disasters of any kind.

2. Initiate efforts  to reduce deaths due to illnesses.

3. Cause a decline in the rate of public health emergencies. 

4. Empower the Red Cross, civil society and local communities to ensure speedy response to emergencies and vulnerable situations.

5. Always reinstate human dignity

Unity in Diversity

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an autonomous and unbiased organization, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, comprising an able- bodied network of 12000 or more staff positioned across 80 countries worldwide.

As a keeper of the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC is allowed to initiate relief operations, to visit prisons, and lead humanitarian endeavors in times of armed conflicts. The organization also undertakes the process of uniting separated families.

In the face of increasing humanitarian challenges, how does the International Red Cross stick its head out to save the day for many millions of people?

Nearly 30% of the ICRC's work is done with the assistance of 186 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies located worldwide that strive to alleviate human suffering during natural or man-made disasters.

Touted as one of the biggest networks in the world, The Red Cross Umbrella of societies consists of 97 million volunteers, many of who are women and youth. In addition, around 300,000 people are employed by the national societies.

These wonderfully tuned units breathe life and vigor into the initiatives of International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, enabling a range of assistance- during war, natural calamities, and diseases. Further, the organization also initiates search activity to reunite lost or misplaced families during war and conflict.

The organization is also involved with programs concerning food, response during emergency, and the dissemination of international humanitarian law, especially in places where it is lacking. The network also endeavors to check the spread of notorious diseases - influenza, malaria, tuberculosis by initiating the first and most important step of CREATING AWARENESS.


In the last one year the International Federation has sought to alleviate the impact of climatic changes in 13 Asian countries, 10 European countries, 18 countries in Africa, and 16 in America.

The International Federation had also launched a commendable campaign in 2006 with a huge outlay of $300 million to combat HIV in one of the worst HIV- affected places in the world- Southern Africa. More than 250,000 people with HIV, 460,000 orphans and children stood to gain by the relentless drive of this organization.

It is still fresh in our collective memories of the commitment of Red Cross to the cause of malaria when 8.3 million insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets were distributed in Africa.

Deprived parts of Russia have benefited by the Red Cross food distribution initiative which has alleviated hunger for two million needy people. During the past three years, the American Red Cross has assisted vulnerable populations in Russia through a massive emergency food campaign.

The Red Cross has penetrated the strife -torn area of Afghanistan to provide stationery supplies to children, so that they could avail basic education.

The Red Cross has partnered with organizations like WHO and UNICEF on a five year plan to disseminate the 'The Principles of Management of Childhood Illness' in Latin America and the Caribbean. Families are also being educated with a 16-step strategy to protect children from childhood illnesses, which is a leading cause of death among children. 

These are just a few of the organization's countless endeavors.

Leading the Way

The International Federation holds sacrosanct, that mitigating risks and preparing for any eventuality is crucial to help the world community combat the growing humanitarian challenges. 

The organization which believes in the immense strength of 'Prevention' over 'Cure' draws on the time- tested strategy of using warning systems, health awareness programs, evacuation planning, improving water and sanitation, and hygiene promotion programs to reduce threats to humanity.

Using an extremely focused community- based approach, empowered by its world wide network of resources and technology, the Red Cross rises to the occasion to meet even the most Herculean of humanitarian challenges, till the mission is successful. The Red Cross Day is in celebration and thanksgiving of its undying efforts for the cause of mankind.

Source: Medindia

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