International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Health Care

Lay Htoo and her newborn at the Tham Hin refugee camp, near the Thailand-Myanmar border.
Photo: Peter Biro/IRC

The International Rescue Committee’s work to build healthy communities and to improve maternal, newborn, reproductive, and environmental health among refugees and displaced people is central to our mission. Working with a range of partners, from village health committees to governments, we help distressed communities rebuild their health systems, combat infectious diseases, and recover from the scourge of sexual violence. The IRC believes public health is crucial for development, both individual and societal.

How We Help

  • IRC doctors, nurses, and community health workers provide primary and reproductive health care to over 14.5 million people annually.
  • Our child survival health programs have dramatically cut child mortality rates in South Sudan, Sierra Leone and other countries.
  • The IRC’s environmental health program provides over 4.4 million with access to clean water and sanitation.
  • IRC health teams vaccinate children against malaria, measles, chickenpox, and other preventable childhood diseases.

Learn more about the IRC’s health programs

An estimated 300 million people worldwide live in countries affected by armed conflict. When violence and political instability disrupt societies and displace populations, they usually destroy public health services, clean water supplies, sanitation and stable living conditions. As a result, death and disease skyrocket.

During these emergencies the IRC strives to rapidly reduce illness and death rates to normal levels. When the conflict subsides, the IRC works with displaced individuals and communities to rebuild their health systems.

IRC health programs assist approximately 13 million people in 25 countries, focusing on primary health care, reproductive health careenvironmental health, child survival, blindness treatment and prevention, and assistance for victims of sexual violence. 

The IRC works in various settings such as in refugee camps, in disaster-stricken areas and in host countries where refugees have resettled after a conflict.

IRC experts in primary care, environmental health, reproductive health, epidemiology, child survival, and emergency medicine ensure that IRC programs use cutting edge public health tools in accordance with best-practice standards for humanitarian aid.

The IRC is also committed to contributing to the development of the science and practice of humanitarian assistance and has undertaken a variety of research studies on public health published in various peer-reviewed journals.

Special Report

Congo Crisis: IRC mortality surveys in the Democratic Republic of Congo


Emmanuel D’Harcourt, MD, MPH
Senior Health Director
International Rescue Committee
122 East 42nd Street
New York, NY, 10168

The IRC is a member of the CORE Group, which works to improve and expand community-focused public health practices for underserved populations around the world.