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 MSFlogoThe ISN Renal Disaster Relief Task Force (RDRTF) provides essential medical care to people in the wake of natural disasters. The Task Force consists of a worldwide network of experts in the management of patients with acute renal failure. It was created after the severe earthquake in Armenia in 1988 to provide future renal aid in action wherever needed around the globe.  The Task Force works in close collaboration with Médecins sans Frontières.

 MSFlogoThe ISN Renal Disaster Relief Task Force (RDRTF) provides essential medical care to people in the wake of natural disasters. The Task Force consists of a worldwide network of experts in the management of patients with acute renal failure. It was created after the severe earthquake in Armenia in 1988 to provide future renal aid in action wherever needed around the globe.  The Task Force works in close collaboration with Médecins sans Frontières.

Call for expression of interest


submit your expression of interest and nomination

Renal Disaster Preparedness Working Group (RDPWG) Chair, Deputy Chair and members – call for expressions of interest and nominations

ISN is now calling for expressions of interest and nominations for positions on the Renal Disaster Preparedness Working Group (RDPWG). This call for expressions of interest and nominations is open to all ISN members in good standing. Deadline is 7 November 2018.

The ISN Renal Disaster Relief Task Force (RDRTF), initiated by Norbert Lameire and Raymond Vanholder, has over the last twenty years undertaken many successful missions to areas struck by earthquakes and other natural disasters. The RDRTF has provided support to local nephrology communities and their patients during disasters by providing logistical support and expressing solidarity of the international nephrological community with them.

It has been recognized that over the next decade the RDRTF needs to expand its scope in terms of the types of disasters it wants to cover and the kind of support it provides. This is necessary in recognition that other natural disasters such as tsunamis, flooding, hurricanes, and volcanic activity produce human suffering with particular threats to kidney health, and that preparedness is as important as relief after a disaster. War-related disasters and care of refugees with kidney disease are also presenting challenges which require preparedness.

The current Task Force has accepted this challenge, and proposed the creation of an internationally representative working group to supervise and steer a revision in the mandate of the Task Force. This includes a renaming of the current RDRTF to ISN Renal Disaster Preparedness Working Group (RDPWG), to mark its permanent character and more strategic focus.

The ISN has been charged by the World Health Organization to prepare tailored plans for disaster preparedness and the provision of kidney care. This will be the main task of the RDPWG, which, when appropriate, will also consider providing essential medical care in association with relief organizations to people in the wake of natural disasters.

We are currently calling for expressions of interest and nominations for the positions of RDPWG Chair, Deputy Chair and members. The final composition of RDPWG will reflect regional coverage, balance of competences and consistency with the ISN Diversity Policy.

  1. Chair: The role of the RDPWG Chair is to ensure that the Working Group delivers on its mission. This involves coordinating and steering the Working Group, in line with ISN Executive Committee direction, ensuring that a 5-year strategy is developed, tasks are prioritized, milestones and deadlines respected and desired outcomes reached. The RDPWG Chair is a key link between the RDPWG and the ISN so that information flow is maintained. The Chair will update ISN Leadership and members as to the latest developments of the preparedness plans and of any emergencies requiring ISN help. The term of the Chair is 2 years.
  2. Deputy Chair: The Deputy Chair will assist the Chair (or deputize when she/he is not in attendance) and prepare to assume the Chair role after 2 years.
  3. Members: The RDPWG members will provide their expertise in the area covered by the Working Group and contribute to the deliverables set in the Working Group strategy. If needed, RDPWG members will be asked to advise and coordinate support of medical professionals in affected areas.

Furthermore, all RDPWG members will promote and increase the awareness of special kidney care needed during natural disasters, wars and humanitarian emergencies in their regions.
Additional information
These are volunteer positions for a period of 2 years. Member terms are renewable twice, to a maximum of 6 years. The positions are not remunerated, but expenses incurred are reimbursed according to ISN’s expenses policy. Only active ISN members are eligible.
ISN staff will provide operational support to the RDPWG. The RDPWG Chair, Deputy Chair and members are also supported by the ISN Executive Committee representative for strategic issues as required.
Timelines and next steps
Expressions of interest and nominations for these positions (Chair, Deputy Chair and members) should be submitted by Wednesday, 7 November 2018. We will also be asking Regional Boards to recommend members from their region.

Please provide a short CV (max. 4 pages) and a statement (max. 500 words) explaining relevant skills and experience, and reasons for being considered for the position. In particular, please describe your involvement in relief efforts after natural disasters, wars and humanitarian emergencies, or your contribution to preparedness plans.
For more information on the RDPWG, or to discuss requirements for the role, please contact Luca Segantini, ISN Executive Director, at

submit your expression of interest and nomination



RDRTF Coordination CenterRDRTF

Chairman: Wim Van Biesen (Belgium):

Assistant: Chantal Bergen:

Nephrology Section 0K12A,
University Hospital Ghent
De Pintelaan 185,
BE- 9000 Gent, Belgium
Tel  +32 9 332 4522, Fax  +32 9 332 4599
General e-mail:





The RDRTF regularly recruits volunteers. These include nephrologists, intensivists, renal nurses and dialysis technicians. For further information, contact the Coordination Centre:

The following are a few points about our working methods that we would like to explain to you before enrolling you definitively:

  • Since you will be deployed in disaster areas, you need to be ready to work under stressful and emotional conditions. You will have to travel and work under circumstances which are not always comfortable. Although Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF – Doctors Without Borders) and we ourselves do all we can to anticipate unexpected circumstances, you should foresee that, from time to time, things do not work out as desired (e.g. flight delays, visa problems, basic accommodation and meals, lack of equipment, less comfort).
  • Since you will have to work under the umbrella of MSF, and since they are our hosts, you will need to work according to their rules and habits. MSF goes to the damaged area with an own agenda, and at certain moments, a compromise will have to be found between their and our purposes. You should also realize that many MSF co-workers are non-medics or paramedics who are not aware of the patho-physiology of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), rhabdomyolysis or the crush-syndrome. You will have to be patient in explaining this again and again, and realize that this may take a substantial part of the time.
  • You will have to deal with colleagues from foreign countries. You should show respect to their habits and culture. To a large extent, you will also have to deal with the local medical and paramedical personnel. You should always realize that you are the external factor in this combination what makes it difficult, if not impossible, to impose your own rules. Diplomatic skills are highly appreciated, as well as knowledge of foreign languages.
  • We believe a good knowledge of English is a must, because our teams are international and contacts with local doctors and nurses are essential. Insufficient knowledge of English is a burden for the entire group. Knowledge of other languages (also less traditional ones like Urdu, Pharsi) is useful.



Major interventions

The following slide show presents the objectives of the task force and gives an overview of all RDRTF activities since 1999.

The Task Force has offered crucial assistance in the aftermath of the below disasters:

2011 - October: earthquake in Eastern Turkey
Through local contact with Dr. Sever and his colleague Dr Koc help and support was provided to victims rapidly after disaster struck. A dialysis center for crush victims was set up in the nearby city of Mus. Dr. Koc started giving instructions on appropriate fluid administration, and the absolute necessity to avoid potassium containing solutions.

2011 - March: earthquake and tsunami Japan
The Task Force lent its support to some chronic patients who were moved to hospitals in Tokyo. The team was always on call to help local doctors however the already had a huge nephrology structure.

2011- February: earthquake New Zealand

In Christchurch, the RDRTF helped move patients to the other side of the island as the hospitals didn’t have the possibility to look after chronic patients. There were no cases of acute kidney injury communicated to the team.

2010 - February: earthquake Chile
An intervention team was put on standby to treat potential kidney disease patients. The RDRTF did not take action onsite as the Chilean nephrological community kept everything under control. Sociedad Latino-Americana de Nephrologia e Hipertension (SLANH ) and its Chair Dr. R. Correa-Rotter as well as Dr. W. Douthat from Argentina and Dr. Rodrigo from Brazil are ready to offer help to Chilean dialysis patients.

2010 - January: earthquake Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Seen as one of its most intense interventions, the RDRTF spent two months responding to victims of the earthquake that struck the island in January 2010.  This intervention revealed the tremendous collaboration between Médecins Sans Frontières and nephrology societies across Martinique, Guadaloupe, Europe and the United States.

2009 - September: Sumatra-Padang earthquake
A severe earthquake struck Western Sumatra, Indonesia, on September 30, 2009, shortly after an eartquake and tsunami in the Samoa Islands. Experts from the ISN-RDRTF went to  Sumatra on October 1st, 2009 to evaluate support and needs as part of a broader team of Médecins sans Frontières.

2009 - April: l'Aquila, Italy earthquake
The RDRTF was in continuous contact with several Italian physicians and sent recommendations on the practical approach of crush to the local physicians.

2008 - May: Sichuan- Chengdu, China earthquake
RDRTF assesors we sent to Chengu where materials were purchased by Médecins Sans Frontières and were distributed. Other materials were made available by the Hong Kong Society of Nephrology. 

2007 - August: Earthquake in Peru
In an immediate response to the dreadful Peru quake the RDRTF sent a volunteer, S. Claus, to join the MSF assessment team for a one week intervention.

2006 - July: Israelo-Lebanese War
The RDRTF teamed up once more with Médecins Sans Frontières colleagues to bring aid, supplies and relief to Lebanon within just three days of the initial alert.

2006 - May: Earthquake in Indonesia
Following the devastating earthquake that hit Indonesia on May 26, 2006, Task Force members  underwent a 10 day intervention which consisted of the extensive screening of more than 1,000 hospitalized victims, as well as providing education on the identification and treatment of crush syndrome and acute renal failure.

2005 - October: Earthquake in Pakistan
In collaboration with colleagues from Médecins Sans Frontières, Task Force members were on the ground in Islamabad within days of the quake. The mission marked over two weeks of ISN intervention and relief work.

2003 - December: Earthquake in Iran
After the earthquake in Bam, 140 patients needed dialysis and were evacuated, first to the nearby city of Kerman and if necessary further away by air-bridge.

2003 - May: earthquake in Algeria

1999 - August: Marmara Earthquake
After this major earthquake, close to 500 patients needed dialysis. Six doctors and more than 30 nurses were active over an entire month to help their Turkish colleagues. Furthermore, material help was offered by providing 5 hemodialysis machines and several thousands of dialysers.


Educational Material

The following education material is available for download:

Logistic Coordination in Renal Disasters

Guidelines available on ISN Education

Click here to read the Guidelines and commentaries on ISN Education


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