To train professionals in the principles and practice of humanitarian action in response to disasters, with a focus on needs, public health and health care responses, ethics and public health laws and contribute to academic training, research and development, in humanitarian action during health crisis.
The course is for health, public health and other professionals with field experience in disasters and are responsible for assistance programmes during disasters and other emergencies. Participants in the H.E.L.P. Course include public health professionals such as medical doctors, nurses, nutritionists, environmental engineers, epidemiologists and public health practitioners, as well as operational managers in humanitarian action. Those with experience in humanitarian response in disasters and entrusted with responsibilities of the management of humanitarian assistance or emergency programmes are encouraged to apply.
An overview of the main steps of the planning process provides the participants with common terminology. Assessing health needs, constraints, available health services, prioritization of action and Result-Based Management would be some of the topics covered.
To respect the affected persons, to protect their dignity and life is a core duty in any relief operation. Taking relevant decisions and implementing appropriate action in response to a situation of crises involves a strong commitment to ethics, to respect fundamental ethical values and humanitarian principles. It also involves the recognition of dilemmas, and the need for a structured and ethical decision-taking process.
Malnutrition, lack of income and lack of economic security at household level are severe determinants of disease and mortality in crises. Insufficient food supply and poverty create significant health risks. The course will address nutritional assessment and planning, measuring nutritional status of the population, restoring economic security, ways to deal with malnutrition, methodological guidelines for planning, implementation and surveillance of general and specific food-aid operations and feeding centres.
Survival without water is impossible. The provision of an adequate supply of safe water is an absolute priority in any emergency action. Poor hygiene, overcrowding and pests are the main killers during such situations. The course will look in to the linkages between them and health. Basic methods for emergency water supply, garbage disposal and energy assistance will also be explored.
Epidemiology is an essential tool in relief operations. In an emergency situation the initial health assessment, the monitoring of assistance programmes and the evaluation of the impact of the relief operation must be documented by an effective health information system.
Control of communicable diseases is a major task in disaster situations, especially where large concentrations of people are living in precarious conditions of hygiene. Early warning and response system, outbreak preparedness, investigation and response will be discussed.
Disasters are characterized by a heavy demand for curative care, which may overwhelm existing health services. But prevention of illness and injury is also a key component of primary health care services in emergencies, and should be closely integrated with curative services. Special consideration must be given to vulnerable groups such as women and children. Reproductive health and management of childhood illnesses, and health services management are major challenges during crisis situations.
Mental health is an important area to be addressed among victims of disasters. This dimension has been long neglected and must be addressed in a professional manner.
International Humanitarian Law (IHL) forms a major part of international law. It comprises the rules, which, in times of armed conflict, protect persons who are not or no longer involved in the fighting, and restrict the methods and means of warfare employed.
Humanitarian professionals have a duty to ensure the security of their teams and themselves in the field. In response to critical incident or to chronic challenges, they must manage the stress and ensure the well-being and safety of all.
All participants are invited to make a short presentation on an activity or relief operation in which they have been involved. The purpose is to share experience, reflect on its strengths and weaknesses, and to open a discussion on operational challenges, ethical dilemmas and the proper ways to address them in humanitarian crises.
Special sessions are organized according to local needs, experience and interest. These may include mass casualty and triage, management of dead bodies, sexual violence, nuclear, biological and chemical threats, weapon contamination, or vulnerable groups.
Methods used would be lectures, case studies, focus group discussions, presentations, field work and scenario-based learning and reflections.
Upon successful completion of the course, each participant will be awarded a certificate of attendance.