The Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University
Center for Population and Family Health
Program on Forced Migration and Health

in partnership with

International Rescue Committee
World Education





Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development
Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance


(click here to download an application form in Word 6 format)


"At the end of two weeks, I feel I am now positioned in a better way to deal with situations as they arise in my work" -August 1999 course participant

"…The course simulated practical field settings. All topics were field related…(the course) reflected many areas which are quite often overlooked and yet, have great impact on implementation of programs" -August 1999 course participant


What does the course offer?

This course is a two-week training course that focuses on critical public health issues faced by NGO/PVO personnel working in complex health emergencies.

The goal of the course is to enhance the capacity of humanitarian assistance workers and their organizations to respond to health emergencies.


Who should attend?

This course is best suited for professional staff with previous field experience as health workers, program mangers and/or decision-makers in complex emergencies. Participants are expected to apply what they learn during the course to their immediate work in the field.

Medical Coordinators, Health Coordinators, and Program Managers from international and indigenous health organizations, are typical candidates for the course.

Foreign health ministry or government officials working in health emergency situations may also apply. All applicants should have a strong command of English, i.e. daily working knowledge and usage.


What will participants learn?

The course combines what is scientifically optimal with what is operationally feasible in complex emergencies. Participants will master key competencies in all of the following sectors:

Context Nutrition
Communicable Disease
Environmental Health
Violence, Weapons, Trauma
Reproductive Health
Ethical Issues
Psychosocial Issues

The course is currently offered in English. Extensive reading and participatory learning methods are used. All participants will receive a pre-reading packet of materials before arriving at the course site.


What makes this course unique?

An NGO/PVO Health Advisory Committee, representing 16 humanitarian aid agencies is actively participating in the design of the Public Health in Complex Emergencies training program. Members of this committee, joined by other international professionals, will oversee course contents to ensure that each module reflects the priorities of those who are working in the field. This course is truly "of the field, by the field and for the field."

A Global Advisory Committee, also comprised of experts with significant field experience, will advise the program to ensure that technical information reflects the most current, state-of-the-art knowledge available.

Course organizers will be vigilant in monitoring evaluations from both participants and trainers. Recommendations and constructive feedback will be discussed on a continual basis and incorporated where or when appropriate.


Who teaches?

Courses are taught by leading international experts with a wide variety of field experience in complex emergencies. Trainers will represent a range of backgrounds from NGO’s to multi-lateral, international agencies, academic and research centers.


Where are they held?

In order to keep course costs low and include as many NGO/PVO’s as possible, courses will be hosted at colleges, universities or basic conference centers around the world.

Courses during 2000 will be held at the following times and locations:


How much does it cost?

The tuition for year 2000 is US $1,800 per person.

The fee includes: room, full board, and all course materials. Participants can expect to have private rooms; in some cases, bathroom/shower facilities must be shared.

The fee does not include: transportation, personal phone calls or faxes, or shipping of personal items from the course.

Very limited financial assistance is available. Participants are encouraged to seek financial support from external sources.


What is the application procedure?

Applications should be submitted directly to the International Rescue Committee (click here to download an application form in Word 6 format).

A committee representing Columbia University School of Public Health, World Education, International Rescue Committee and members of the NGO Health Advisory Committee will review applications. Please see the application form for deadline dates.

Students who are accepted will receive detailed registration information and payment procedures from Columbia University.

All applications should be sent to:

International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Attn: Lorna Stevens, Director, Health Training
122 E. 42nd Street, New York, NY 10168 USA
Tel: (212) 551-3005, Fax: (212) 551-3185


For more information, please contact Columbia University:

Ronald Waldman, MD, MPH
Director, Program on Forced Migration and Health
Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health
Center for Population and Family Health
60 Haven Avenue
New York, NY 10032 USA
Tel: 212-304-5219, Fax: 212-305-7024


Sharon Kim, MPH
Program Coordinator, P.H.C.E. Training Program
Tel: 212-304-5286, Fax: 212-305-7024


Cancellation Policy

Should you cancel your place in a course for which you have confirmed a space, the following refund policy will be used:

4 weeks prior to course start date: 90% refund
3 weeks prior to course start date: 85% refund
2 weeks prior to course start date: 80% refund
less than 2 weeks prior to start date: 75% refund


Participant Feedback, June 1999 course

(note to R.Waldman)


……….I have to tell you that your story about scurvy in Ethiopia, which you used as an example of unexpected diseases in unusual places, really struck a chord with me. As I was listening to you in New York, I was remembering how I had thought it curious that such a large number of people presenting to my clinic in Omdurman were diagnosed with "rheumatism." I made a note to check up on it when I went back, never thinking that scurvy could really be the problem -- citrus fruit, onions, etc, are readily available in Khartoum. Anyway, when I asked the doctor at my clinic to look for other symptoms and to treat with Vitamin C, we found SEVERAL cases of vitamin C deficiency among the patients at our clinic. This was a shock to all of us health workers from all the organizations here. After doing more studies in our population, it appears that people just can't afford to buy fruit, and it's not a high priority. We've just added a component of our program in the proposal for next year, to include fresh fruit supplementation for food rations in supplemental feeding, and additional nutrition education for school kids.

Laurel Fain
Health Coordinator, IRC Sudan


Special acknowledgement and thanks to the following organizations:

Action Against Hunger, American Red Cross, American Refugee Committee, AMREF-Uganda, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Doctors of the World, InterAction, Human Rights and Peace Center, Faculty of Law, Makerere University, Institute of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine, Makerere University, International Center for Migration and Health, International Medical Corps, International Aid, Mercy Corps, Medecins Sans Frontieres, MERLIN, Peace Corps, Relief International, Save the Children, Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Vision


About the Center for Population & Family Health

The Center for Population & Family Health addresses the reproductive, adolescent, and child health conditions that confront communities throughout the world, both settled communities and communities that have been displaced as a result of political or environmental emergencies. In addition to our international activities, the Center has a particular interest in the needs of the communities in which the Center is located, in northern Manhattan. The Center contributes to the improvement of community health by supporting activities and programs that:


The Center is committed to these areas of education, service and research not as distinct and isolated categories but rather as highly interdependent activities.