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) as well as training officer in the Health Division in Geneva.

She was Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine from 1997 – 2024, training other medical professionals to work in resource poor settings and low to middle-income countries of the world and continually seeking 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. She continues to lecture at LSHTM & worldwide.

Awards & Honours

Claire was honoured as Dame Commander of British Empire by the Queen in 2009 for services to ”Nursing and to International Humanitarian Aid.”

Faculty of Global and Community Affairs at Duke University School of Nursing October 2022, Lectured and delivered the 13th Annual Dorothy L. Powell Global Health

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

Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion 2018, Honorary Fellow

Scientific Exploration Society 2017 – Member of Honorary Advisory Board

Five formidable women who shaped the Red Cross – 23rd March 2012

She was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire in 2012

Voted one of 10 most influential female nurses of all time 10th June 2012 *Scrubs is journal for ITU, CCU, Operating Theatre specialists

Voted one of top 20 most influential people in the nursing field in September 2010

Dame Commander of British Empire by the Queen in 2009 for services to ”Nursing and to International Humanitarian Aid.

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 Honorary Doctorate of the University in 2011,
  • Robert Gordon Aberdeen University in 2010, Doctor in Education
  • Du Montfort University in 2009, Doctor of Science
  • Brunel University 2008, Doctor of Social Science
  • MSc in Medical Anthropology Brunel University 1997

Responsibilities include:


Published her biography “Moving Mountains” 2005 by Transworld publishers & 2006 Bantam Publishers

Published Japanese version of book Moving Mountains 2020

Further background information:

13th Annual Dorothy L. Powell Global Health Lecture on Tuesday September 2022

Regis College Massachusetts podcast

News Medical Life Science August 2021: Achieving Equality for Women’s Health and Beyond

Soka University, Japan Keynote to Soka University Graduation Ceremony & Soka Women’s College Graduation Ceremony March 2019

March 2014

BBC 100 Women 2013


Global Issues Conference Qatar 2009 – Page 10

‘Making Humanity the Highest Priority’

Global Issues Network Luxembourg 2006 & 2011

British Red Cross: Five Women who shaped the Red Cross 2023

March 2014

HARDtalk interview: Stephen Sackur talks to former Red Cross nurse Claire Bertschinger .

3rd January 2006 Compassion Fatigue

Sunday Times July 2005 Interview: Deirdre Fernand meets Claire Bertschinger

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

One of the Most Influential Female Nurses of all Time


A-CET, The African Children’s Educational Trust with Sir Bob Geldof

Making a difference Claire Bertschinger Health Care and Peace Worker

#LXAcademy lecture 2019

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

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


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

Audio file with BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour

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