RUG: Public Health in Humanitarian Action

  • Course description

    The main key to reducing the impact of natural and man-made disasters on public health is to recognize specific vulnerable populations and to be aware of the main strategies to provide humanitarian relief. A good knowledge of the essential preventive measures such as the supply of clean water, proper sanitation, basic food products and sometimes early vaccination, as well as the provision of the most basic medical (emergency) services are of crucial importance.

    In circumstances of economic disruption, natural disasters (either acute or chronic), collapsing political structures, famines and mass disruptions/ destabilization it is important that decision makers in the humanitarian sector, without a thorough medical education, do have a profound knowledge of the use, scope and management of the appropriate techniques to combat the short and long term human health impacts of these disasters.
  • Main themes

    Humanitarian system and global health policy.
    Chronic conditions, sexual and reproductive health.
    Shelter and site planning.
    Water and sanitation.
    Malnutrition and food insecurity.
  • Learning outcomes

    The learning outcomes for the Public Health module have presently been defined by the network as follows:
    • Has a comprehensive understanding of public health in different emergency contexts.
    • Has demonstrated the ability to integrate a public health response into the often complex social and cultural environment of those affected informed by humanitarian principles (also taught in the Anthropology and Psychology module).
    • Has demonstrated to possess the fundamental skills to plan and implement health interventions in emergencies regarding food security, water & environmental health, communicable diseases, psycho-social/psychological issues, health care services and health information systems (also taught in the Anthropology and Psychology module).
    • Has demonstrated the necessary skills for communicating public health situations and conclusions, to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
    • Has a clear understanding of personal health and safety risks in disasters.
    • Has developed a capacity to cope with personal health & security issues.
  • Teaching and learning methodology

    Lecture, class discussions, workshops.
  • Assessment methods and criteria

    Written exam, presentation and participation in class.
  • Required reading

    - Refugee health: an approach to emergency situations by Médecins Sans Frontières
    - Conflict And Health by Natasha Howard, Egbert Sondorp & Annemarie Ter Veen
    - Alternatively (non-obligatory): MSF Reference books 

Last updated: 9 November 2016

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