The International Committee of the Red Cross created the HELP (Health Emergencies in Large Populations) course in 1986 to enhance professionalism in humanitarian assistance programs in emergency situations.

Since 1986, it has been taught in various parts of the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and training has been provided to approximately 2,700 health professionals and humanitarian aid workers from the Red Cross, United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations, ministries of health, armed forces medical services, and academic institutions.

The course has been organized in collaboration with academic institutions, the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Medical Association, and National Red Cross Societies.

It consists of two modules. The first provides the public health tools needed to make appropriate decisions in emergencies involving large populations. It lays the groundwork for a shared approach to public health issues among humanitarian organizations, thereby helping to better coordinate emergency operations. It covers specific areas such as planning, nutrition, economic security, environmental health, communicable disease control, health services, mental health, and epidemiology.
The second module examines health-related ethics issues. It provides an overview of the main legal instruments; international humanitarian law, especially human rights instruments; professional codes; and declarations that are the basis for decision-making in humanitarian operations.

In the Americas, the course will be given in Spanish in November 2010 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in collaboration with the National Public Health Institute. It will be given in English from 10 January to 21 January 2011 at John Hopkins University in Baltimore in the United States. For more information please visit one of the following websites: or