As well as his practical experience, Dr Redmond is also an academic authority in his field, and the author of the book The ABC of Conflict and Disaster. In the extract 'Needs Assessment of Humanitarian Crises', published as a self-contained article in BMJ, Britain's most eminent medical journal, he talks about the importance of needs assessment, and the correct prioritization of response to disasters.
Yang Jiechi shaking hands with medics of Chengdu No. 2 People's Hospital. Photo by Wang Pei.
China has faced some criticism in the western media for its failure to involve western aid organizations quicker and on a larger scale. While the criticism has not always come from informed sources, that does not mean that it will not influence those who read or hear it.
China.org.cn therefore takes the opportunity to ask the views of Dr Redmond on the subject. His reply is clear.
"Such criticism would be inappropriate and misguided. China's reaction has been sensible. It's a big country with a lot of people and a lot of skills. When you talk about bringing in 'outside help' bear in mind that many of the people who have come from other areas in China to work in disaster relief – people who already speak the language - have traveled as far as some international workers would have."
Dr Redmond goes on to identify some of the things that he thinks the authorities have done right. He feels that there was clearly a plan in place, that it was carried out swiftly, and that people had a clear understanding of what they needed to do. Specifically with regard to the medical side, patients have been distributed widely – very important if the facilities are available - and they have been moved on quickly to an appropriate center providing the level of treatment they need. Both of these are important in ensuring that no institution becomes overwhelmed.
As far as advice as to what might be done better is concerned, this is addressed more to observers than to the participants: get a sound idea of what is happening before you start to put forward proposals, and understand that media images do not come close to capturing the reality of a disaster on such a scale.
"I'm genuinely impressed with the Chinese effort, and I want to stress that", says the Professor. "I hope that the Chinese authorities will go on to publish their accounts of the relief effort in the professional journals."
These words should be accepted as a welcome compliment by every individual who has played a part in the aftermath of the disaster.
Finally, China.org.cn draws Dr Redmond's attention to the current controversy surrounding the comments of actress Sharon Stone on the earthquake.