The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, more commonly known as the Red Cross, is a worldwide humanitarian movement with the largest number of volunteers and trained medical staff in its fray. The main aims of the organization, which has its roots in the mid-19th century, are to:
- Curb human suffering by way of first aid services
- Encourage community development
- Exercise epidemic control
- Provide assistance to military personnel both on and off the battlefield
- Organize programs on disease prevention and health promotion
A brief history
The Red Cross owes its presence to Jean-Henri Dunant, a Swiss businessman who was taken aback by the degree of suffering he witnessed firsthand during the Austro-Sardinian War in 1859. Dunant fervently advocated the creation of voluntary relief establishments that would cater to wounded soldiers. His proposal had many takers over the years and included lawyers, national governments, and philanthropists.
By the time the First World War had begun, 45 relief societies were already in operation the world over. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, came into existence with the inclusion of more countries over time.
A truly global reach
The Red Cross has a vast network of volunteers, donors, members, doctors, nurses, and other staff who respond immediately to those in need during times of economic, environmental, or social upheaval. Whether it is a forest fire, hurricane, earthquake, civil war, or tsunami that has devastated the lives of thousands or even millions, the Red Cross offers food, shelter, and comprehensive health services to help them get back on their feet.
The organization works alongside governments and global bodies like the United Nations to provide humanitarian aid to communities regardless of race, gender, religion, political inclinations, and nationality.
Apart from providing global healthcare and rescue services, the Red Cross also conducts lifeguard, first aid, CPR training programs, and other health courses to equip volunteers with the skills and tools needed to help communities in an emergency.