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Challenges in International Humanitarian Aid

Global Health
Unni Krishnan Karunakara

An interview with Unni Krishnan Karunakara 

"The practice of health cannot just be biomedical in its approach. It has to take into account local beliefs and customs, but more than that, the economic, political, and social realities of communities. Humani- tarian medicine is political medicine. It is not politics with a capital “P” but rather one encompassing a firm advocacy for and solidarity with people going through difficult times, and the consistent belief that people should be provided with good quality, effective medical care. "


Unni Krishnan Karunakara has been a humanitarian worker and a public health professional for two decades with extensive experience in the delivery of health care to neglected populations affected by conflict, disasters, and epidemics in Africa, Asia, and America. He was Medical Director of the medical humanitarian organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines (2005–2007) and its International President (2010–2013). Dr. Karunakara currently serves on the Board of Directors of Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) India and on the Board of Trustees of MSF India and is currently a Senior Fellow of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale Uni- versity, an Assistant Professor in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and a Visiting Adjunct Professor at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University.