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The Center for Refugee and Disaster Relief


Health Emergencies in Large Populationsmother and child  (HELP)

The Health Emergencies in Large Populations (HELP) 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 the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. For more than 20 years, the HELP course has offered humanitarian workers an intensive training experience in public health principles and disaster epidemiology. The course was founded based on the need for humanitarian workers to acquire a holistic understanding of the needs of refugees, internally displaced persons, and others affected by natural disasters and conflict in order more effectively manage health crises in emergency settings.  

The Goal of HELP is to create an understanding of the public health needs of populations in disaster and conflict situations. This includes the background, underlying causes, and the dynamics that cause populations to be vulnerable in emergencies. Topics covered during the course include disaster management, food security and nutrition, environmental health, health and surveillance systems, humanitarian ethics, human rights and human security, conflict origins, and security for aid workers.

HELP includes on-site lectures with the sector’s leading practitioners and academics. Through in-class assignments and group exercises, participants gain important skills necessary for humanitarian response, including skills in epidemiological methods and management of health emergencies. 

The HELP course is typically offered twice per year, over two weeks in January (with supplementary online modules) and three weeks in July. The course is held at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland where instruction takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for the duration of the course.

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

Participants come to HELP from a variety of civil society, governmental, military, and private organizations and include nurses, physicians, public health professionals and humanitarian aid workers focused on health in humanitarian emergencies. 

Summer Institute

July 10 - 28, 2017

Contact the HELP Course Coordination Team if you have any questions not covered on the website. For more information, visit the Facebook page.


Accolades from Recent Participants

This course was excellent! Lots of great material for my work. 

…it is so well coordinated and the speakers have been outstanding! The content has been incredibly informative and interesting!
This course…. has provided me with in-depth knowledge of the humanitarian needs and the impact of public health in the humanitarian response.
The course exceeded my expectations
This was a great course!! thank you!
The HELP course was very relevant to my personal goals and it organized the way I look at disasters.
This has been a really amazing course!

“This has been a great learning experience for me. Many thinks for all the special care and mentoring.”

“Thank you for a great three weeks. We have learned a lot in a very friendly environment.”

“It has been nothing short of amazing, and I have learned so much!”

“A great inspirational HELP course!”

“I am now more dedicated than ever to my career in Global Health.”


HELP Class of July 2014

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