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Health Emergencies in Large Populations (HELP) Course

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The Health Emergencies in Large Populations course is offered by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in joint collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and for the January HELP course, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. For more than 25 years, the HELP course has offered humanitarian workers an intensive training in the public health principles of disaster preparedness and disaster management. The course was founded to apply public health principles to the humanitarian needs of populations affected by disasters, both natural and conflict related.

HELP participants come from a variety of civil society, governmental, and non-governmental organizations, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Professions represented have include nurses, physicians, public health professionals, lawyers, journalists, managers, planners, logisticians, and aid workers. Some people attending have had many years of experience in specific areas of humanitarian assistance, and others are just beginning their careers.

The goal of HELP is to approach the needs of disaster-affected populations with a public health lens. The course will equip participants with the basic skills and competencies to enable them to respond to the public health needs of populations in humanitarian situations. Topics will be covered both through recorded modules prior to the course and live sessions which will build on the recorded materials.

Providing assistance begins with understanding the background, underlying causes, context and the current dynamics that cause populations to have health vulnerabilities in emergencies. Building on this, the course will include the topics listed below:

  • Disaster planning

  • International Health Regulations

  • Structure of humanitarian assistance

  • Disease management

  • Epidemiology of disasters

  • Shelter in emergencies

  • Water and sanitation in emergencies

  • Causes of Conflict

  • Nutrition in emergencies

  • Mission of the ICRC

  • Food security and livelihoods

  • Reproductive health

  • International Humanitarian Law

  • Delivery of health services

  • Natural Disasters

  • Mental Health in emergencies

  • Personal Security

The course will also include a one-day simulation, during which acquired skills and knowledge can be applied.

At the completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the essential issues related to public health, health care, management, law, and ethics that are associated with humanitarian action, and methods to address them.
  • Analyze health and other humanitarian needs using a multidisciplinary approach that takes into consideration the perceptions, vulnerabilities, and capabilities of the people affected.
  • Plan, manage, and evaluate activities included in the response to major humanitarian crises.
The virtual HELP course

The virtual HELP course began during the pandemic using Zoom technology, and now will be offered every January. The virtual course has the same structure and instructors as in the Baltimore on-site courses. Group work continues to be an important part of the course. Before the course, participants will complete a series of online preparatory course modules requiring approximately 10-12 hours and completed at your own pace. A quiz at the end of these modules will assure you that you have mastered the basic materials to begin the live virtual course through Zoom.

A basic requirement is that all participants have adequate internet connectivity to actively participate through Zoom and to be able to view the powerpoints and videos which are part of the course materials.

Participants must make time to complete the online recorded lectures before the virtual HELP course starts. The virtual HELP course will require 6–6.5 hours of your full attention every day for both lectures and group work. In addition, it will take you 2–3 hours to prepare for the next day’s sessions. This is not a course to take while continuing your regular work. The virtual sessions run from 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Monday–Friday in Baltimore (U.S. Eastern) time to allow people from many time zones to participate. There will be breaks between the sessions so you can have tea or coffee or grab a snack.

During the interactive live sessions, participants will participate in case studies, discussions, lectures, exchange of experiences with colleagues, as well as apply the skills learned through the online courses. Problem solving and group exercises will be done in group sessions. Cost for the full online 2022 course, which includes online modules and virtual class sessions, is $1,200. There are some scholarships available to cover the full costs of the course for participants from outside the U.S.

All healthcare and public health professionals working in health emergencies and humanitarian assistance should consider attending the course.

For more information, including the application, click here.

Fee information

Cost for the full online 2022 course, which includes online modules and virtual class sessions, is $1,200. There are some scholarships available to cover the full costs of the course for participants from outside the U.S.

How to Register

Apply by sending your application and proof of payment as separate attachments to helpcourse.jhsph@gmail.com. The deadline for submitting applications for the Winter 2022 HELP course is December 10, 2021.

The application can be found on the course website here.