Title: Public Health and Disasters - Assessing and responding to health care needs in natural disasters and complex emergencies
Keywords: Vulnerable groups (in general)
Violence / war
Health in emergencies
Country: Germany
Institution: Germany - Institute of Public Health, University of Heidelberg
Course coordinator: Revati Phalkey
Michael Marx
Date start: 2019-04-29
Date end: 2019-05-10
About duration and dates: 10 working days
Classification: advanced optional
ECTS credit points: 3 ECTS credits
SIT: 90 SIT (40h lecture and 30h tutored group work, 20h self-study)
Language: English
At the end of the course participants should be able to:
• explain the health and health systems impacts of disasters
• explain the importance of addressing gender based violence and mental health impacts
• differentiate between natural disasters and complex emergencies in terms of health impacts and needs
• apply rapid needs assessment methods and prioritization in disaster situations
• use strategic and operational planning and health management tools in disasters
• apply epidemiological methods in disaster situations
• explain the driving forces and determinants of inter-agency coordination in the field
• distinguish between development-oriented humanitarian aid and mainstreaming preparedness in development policies
• identify methods for quality assurance and minimum standard setting in humanitarian aid
• apply socio-cultural aspects in the field work appropriately
Assessment Procedures:
Final examination using short essay questions and multiple choice based on the learning objectives (70%, individual mark)
and group work presentation on selected topics (30%, group mark); passing mark is 60% for both parts together.
Participants have the chance to re-sit the written exam not later than 4 weeks after announcement of results.
The content of the course reflects up-to-date knowledge and experience with the impact assessment and management of natural disasters and complex emergencies in the health sector:
• Disaster situations,
• Disaster preparedness,
• Development programmes,
• Cross-cultural awareness,
• Gender based and sexual violence,
• Working relations in the field, donor coordination,
• Relief to development continuum,
• Applied epidemiology in needs assessment and
• Relief planning for natural disasters and complex emergencies.
The course uses participatory learning based on lectures (30 %), individual reading (10%) and exercise (10%) plenary and group discussions (15%), facilitated group work and presentations (30%) and peer –feedback (5%).
English: TOEFL test 580 or IELTS 6.5 or equivalent language skills;
The course is intended for health professionals working in the field of humanitarian assistance. Candidates should preferably have at least 2 years work experience in developing countries.
Maximum number of students (including tropEd students): 25
First come, first served
General admission: 1.500,- EUR
reduced fee for tropEd students: 1.000,- EUR
Scholarships: None available
Major changes since initial accreditation: - Revati Phalkey coordinates the course along with Michael Marx
- Name changed from "Health of Unstable Populations" to "Public Health in Disasters"
- The overall focus of the course has moved from refugee health to public health in disasters
- CRED (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters) still comes to teach in the course, but does not co-coordinate the course as such
- The assessment method includes now also an assessed group work to promote team work between participants
Student evaluation: Positive
- Good variety of speakers and topics
- Experience from the ground to the classroom
- Practical and theoretical insights of disasters in a comprehensive manner

- Provision of the overall picture -linking of elements
- Coordination among coordinators
- More people from the field
Lessons learned: - Students like the practical sessions
- Group work should be steered more by facilitators.
- The course previously had a good balance of theory and practical knowledge but covered only complex emergencies and refugee situations. The addition of natural disasters makes it complete and the skills acquired are of use for humanitarian aid workers in disaster situations of any type.
- When there are two coordinators, the communication needs to be very intensive among them
tropEd accreditation: Accredited 1999 in Basel. Re-accreditation: Edinburgh, September 2004 and in Bordeaux, January 2011 and in EC phone conference April 2016.This accreditation is valid until April 2021.
Included as Elective in MScIH Residential Track
Email Address: Grys@uni-heidelberg.de
Date Of Record Creation: 2012-01-09 21:48:44 (W3C-DTF)
Date Of Record Release: 2012-01-10 04:03:10 (W3C-DTF)
Date Record Checked: 2018-06-10 (W3C-DTF)
Date Last Modified: 2018-06-10 14:01:28 (W3C-DTF)

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