HELP Course

***Announcement: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the HELP Winter 2021 course will be a virtual course with an online module to be completed before the January course begins. As a virtual course, HELP will have the same distinguished faculty as in previous years, with the same great discussions of current humanitarian health issues, but this year taught with Zoom.

2020-2021 Dates

Apply by sending your application, C.V., and proof of payment as separate attachments to helpcourse.jhsph@gmail.com 

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 for the January course, 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, disease management humanitarian ethics, human rights and human security, conflict origins, and security for aid workers.

The aim of the HELP course is to equip participants with the basic skills and competencies to enable them to respond to the public health needs of populations in emergency situations. These include the areas of planning, epidemiological assessment, control of communicable and noncommunicable diseases, information and surveillance systems, environmental sanitation methods and meeting nutritional requirements in refugee situations.

Previous participants have come from a variety of civil society, governmental, and private organizations and include nurses, physicians, public health professionals, and humanitarian aid workers focused on health in humanitarian emergencies.

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

Normally, 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 course is typically offered twice per year, over two weeks in January and three weeks in July and held at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Instruction takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for the duration of the course.

Due to COVID-19, the Winter 2021 HELP course will be held as a virtual course with a pre-course online component to be done in December 2020. Both are essential parts of the HELP course. The online modules may be completed at you own pace and time prior to the beginning of class in January. The second part will include virtual zoom sessions. These interactive sessions will be five hours a day Monday-Fridays and timed for people living in a variety of time zones. 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 Winter 2021 course which includes online modules and virtual class sessions is $1200. There are still scholarships available to cover the full costs of the course for participants from outside the USA.

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

Outline of Program

► Topics
► Objectives
► Skills
► Instructors

Helpful links: 

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

**Please be advised you must register for the HELP course within 60 days of completing your online application.  If enrollment is not completed within the allotted time frame you will not be permitted to access self-service.  You will be required to contact Continuing Education Student Services (410) 502-8053 to gain access to self-service.  Your access to self-service will be restored 2 hours following update made by Continuing Education Student Services.


Accolades from Recent Participants

“Thank you so much for providing us with such a well put together course! The level of expertise in this course made for such a rich experience.” 

“I learned a ton and am so thankful for this opportunity.”

“This has been such a wonderful experience. It has reignited my desire to work abroad in a humanitarian capacity.”

“Highly recommend this to others!!”

“I have been in school most of my life and this course was one of the most engaging and interesting learning experiences I have ever had.”


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