HELP Course

***Announcement: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the July 2021 HELP  course will be a virtual course with online modules to be completed before the July 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 taught through Zoom.

2021-2022 Dates

Apply by sending your application, C.V., and proof of payment as separate attachments to 

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 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..  

The goal of HELP is to create examine needs of disaster affected populations with a  public health lens. 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 knowing the background, underlying causes, and the dynamics that cause populations to be vulnerable in emergencies. Building on this the course will cover in class the topics covered in the box.

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.

Providing assistance begins with knowing the background, underlying causes, and the dynamics that cause populations to be vulnerable in emergencies. Building on this the course will cover in class the topics covered in the box.

  • 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. 

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 humanitarian situations. Previous participants have 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. 

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

● Describe the essential issues relating 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 HELP course is held in January and July of each year, with the January course being co-sponsored with the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.


During the pandemic, HELP courses are held virtually using Zoom. 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 you 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.

You must also make time to complete the online recorded lectures before the virtual HELP course starts. The virtual HELP course will require 6-6½ 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. The virtual sessions run from 09.30-15.30 Monday-Friday in Baltimore (USA 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 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 health emergencies and humanitarian assistance should consider attending the course.

Outline of Program

► Topics
► Objectives
► Skills
► Instructors

A Funder and the Pandemic Bring H.E.L.P. to a Global Audience

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 note that 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 +1 (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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