Intended for healthcare professionals


The tsunami and the dangers of goodwill

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:261
  1. Andrew C K Lee (, specialist registrar in public health/MSc student
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Following the tsunami in South Asia, there was, as would be expected, the rushing to the scene of a multitude of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), United Nations organisations, and other actors providing emergency relief. There was also a remarkable outpouring of public charity with massive funds being raised for the victims of the disaster. Many volunteers from abroad have independently inundated the afflicted areas. Although notable and well meaning, the public “goodwill” is not without its drawbacks.

In Sri Lanka, where I was dispatched with a relief agency, we found several issues …

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