Health Services of Armies and NGO’s : Humanitarians Hand in Hand?

The context of international relations has led the military to intervene more and more often in humanitarian crises. As a result, the traditional « operators », Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), have learned to work next to, or even with, the members of the French military health services (Service de Santé des Armées – SSA), and this has led to a mutual evolution in the mentalities of both NGOs and the SSA. The obstacles that stand in the way of a more organized cooperation are numerous, not to mention a general reluctance on the part of NGOs to see their actions associated with those of the military. Nevertheless, the interactions between SSA and NGO personnel on the operational field are increasingly acknowledged, and their means are often complementary. A formal coordination of these relations seems more than unlikely, but a sensitive evolution continues, and may open new perspectives in the management of humanitarian crises. – Summary AFRI-2001