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The Center for Refugee and Disaster Relief


HELP Course:  Skills



The HELP course teaches a range of skills that are fundamental to effective management of health needs during humanitarian emergencies. The primary skills emphasized during the course are in the following areas:


Instruction covers the main steps in planning health services, from assessing needs to evaluating the effectiveness of the assistance. 

Food and Nutrition
Instruction covers principles for planning and organizing food distribution systems and feeding centers. Lectures and practice work imparts skills in the sampling and surveillance methods necessary for assessing a population’s nutritional status.

Environmental Health 

Instruction covers the means for providing safe water and adequate sanitation for displaced populations, as well as energy sources and shelter.

Communicable Diseases 

Instruction covers strategies for controlling communicable diseases that commonly occur in endemic and epidemic form. It integrates these activities with other sectors, such as environmental health, education, community mobilization, and preventative programs. 

Health Services 
Instruction covers how to determine what support is needed by existing medical facilities; whether new facilities are needed at various levels; and how to standardize treatment protocols and algorithms. Modules emphasize coordination of health services within the context of other organizations, refugees themselves, and national governments. 


Epidemiologic terms are reviewed, and skills are acquired in the selection of health indicators in emergency situations, methods for collecting data, data analysis in emergency situations, and the use of data to strengthen decision-making. 

Humanitarian Ethics 

Lectures impart awareness of issues of the humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, and universality of intervention strategies. 

Reproductive Health for Refugees 

Instruction emphasizes how refugees reproductive needs differ from the general population and how to protect them against HIV. 

Gender Issues 

The special needs of women refugees are addressed, including targeting of assistance and monitoring health status among the vulnerable.

Human Rights 

Basic human rights frameworks are discussed with their special application to displaced populations, and the measures needed to restore human security. 

International Humanitarian Law 

Included in these lecture modules are the fundamental principles of International Humanitarian Law, identification of categories of persons at risk, mobilization of local authorities, decision-making about evacuation of health personnel, and neutral "zones of peace."

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