A multidisciplinary workshop for managing humanitarian operations in disasters, conflicts, and other crises.


The Health Emergencies in Large Populations (H.E.L.P.) workshop was created in 1986 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to enhance professionalism in humanitarian assistance programs conducted in the midst natural disasters and armed conflict. The H.E.L.P. workshop has been conducted throughout Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia, Western and Eastern Europe. Since 1986, over 4,000 humanitarian, public health, and disaster management professionals representing 130+ nationalities have attended the workshop globally.

The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) has conducted the H.E.L.P. workshop with the ICRC and University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Office of Public Health Studies since 1996, graduating over 700 humanitarian, civilian, and military participants. CFE-DM hosts one of nine H.E.L.P. workshops coordinated globally on behalf of the ICRC and recognized humanitarian and academic training centers.

The H.E.L.P. workshop is a two-week workshop with a focus on the management of humanitarian operations in acute and protracted crises, armed conflict, natural disasters, and major disease outbreaks. CFE-DM’s H.E.L.P. workshop emphasizes a multi-disciplinary public health approach, weaving innovative trends, Asia-Pacific regional challenges, and lessons learned from recent humanitarian crises throughout the curriculum and discussions. We are preparing decision-makers and managers for what they will see in the field.

The workshop emphasis is on analysis and decision-making; pulling out critical challenges and ethical dilemmas from the content that our participants are likely to face in the field. The curriculum is utilization-focused, with the aim to enhance practice on the ground and foster a multi-disciplinary response with a public health approach.

A Joint Effort

The H.E.L.P. workshop is organized by the ICRC in partnership with academic institutions, National Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies, and public health and disaster management organizations globally. Current partnerships and locations for jointly implementing the H.E.L.P. workshop include the following globally-recognized institutions:

  • Ouidah, Benin: Institut régional de Santé Publique
  • Baltimore, Maryland, USA: The Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University
  • Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance and the University of Hawaii
  • Geneva, Switzerland: ICRC, The Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH, University of Geneva), and the WHO
  • Tokyo, Japan: The Japanese Red Cross Nursing College, Japanese Red Cross Society, ICRC Tokyo, WHO
  • Havana, Cuba: Escuela Nacional de Salud Publica and the Cuban Red Cross
  • Tehran, Iran: The School of Public Health at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences and the Iranian Red Crescent
  • New Delhi, India: International Institute for Health Management Research, The WHO's Office for India, the Indian Red Cross Society and the National Disaster Management Authority (TBC)
  • Beirut, Lebanon: The Lebanese Red Cross, The Lebanese University and WHO

H.E.L.P. workshop Participants

The target audience for the H.E.L.P. workshop are managers in charge of humanitarian operations. These includes those that manage projects within their organizations, or health and disaster management professionals involved in national-level humanitarian operations. One of the aims of the H.E.L.P. workshop is to bring together practitioners with a wide range of backgrounds to provide a space within which they can benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience. This encompasses those from different professional backgrounds and a variety of countries/regions and national and international organizations, such as Ministries of Health, Ministries of Defense, National Disaster Management Organizations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, UN agencies such as the WHO and UNICEF, national/international NGOs, and academic institutions.

Workshop Content and Curriculum

The purpose of the H.E.L.P. workshop is to provide professionals involved in humanitarian action the public health tools that will enable them to plan coherent, appropriate relief operations. The workshop emphasizes the decision-making process more than the actual technical aspects. The H.E.L.P. workshop has three primary objectives:

  1. To prepare senior health-care staff to take part in a humanitarian crisis;
  2. To develop a common approach in order to improve coordination between the various organizations involved in such operations, and;
  3. Define the conditions and skills needed to extend humanitarian operations to situations requiring medium-term and long-term planning.

To attain the above objectives, the two-week H.E.L.P. workshop (originally, three weeks) is designed to review the public health disciplines and approaches most commonly utilized in humanitarian crises. The H.E.L.P. workshop draws heavily on the public health pyramid in its workshop design and its integrated approach utilized to best provide services to crisis-affected populations. The public health pyramid is developed “…with the understanding that in order to preserve life and health and ensure respect for people’s dignity, assistance activities must be developed with an overall concept of public health. People need a safe environment. They also require the basic elements for survival: food, safe water, adequate sanitation and shelter, and access to preventive and curative health care.2

Figure 1. Public Health Pyramid

Learning Activities:

The two-week H.E.L.P. workshop is a balance of didactic presentations, group work, discussions on best practices, case studies, exercises, collaborative decision-making, and presentation of reflections and decisions. Every module seeks a balance between:

  1. Lecture or presentation;
  2. Exercise, video, or simulation, and;
  3. Group work and general discussion and exchange of ideas.

30:30:30 Learning Approach:

As a guiding framework, CFE-DM’s facilitation team members implement a 30:30:30 learning approach, opening with a 30-minute opportunity for collective discovery, problem solving and group work. The following 30 minutes is an opportunity for the facilitation team to present reflections and decisions made during group work, building toward key points and developing a framework for the content. The final 30 minutes is designed to present content/slides to participants, further reinforcing the frameworks and experiences gleaned during the case study or group work.

CFE-DM H.E.L.P. Workshop Facilitation Team:

CFE-DM is fortunate to retain strong partnerships with field experienced practitioners and trainers that understand the unique complexities of responding to global humanitarian crises. The Center’s facilitation team members have backgrounds working for UN agencies, international organizations, academic institutions and international non-governmental organizations. They have spent the majority of their careers in the field responding to humanitarian crises. The culmination of their experiences delivers world-class training that ensures participants are collaboratively addressing each content area through trainer-led presentations, case studies, and interactive exercises.

Participant Presentations:

Participant Presentations are collected during the workshop as an opportunity for participants to share personal or work experience related to the H.E.L.P. workshop content or academic endeavors. The slide limitation is 5 slides. There is not a requirement for participants to present their presentations, however, a few presentations may be highlighted and shared during the workshop after further discussion. These presentations provide additional depth to each participant’s area of interest related to the workshop and are an opportunity for participants to share interests/experiences with one another.

Application Information

To apply, please complete all required information on the online application.

If you have difficulty submitting your application electronically, please call: (808) 472-0504, or email Ms. Stephanie Liu at Stephanie.Liu@cfe-dmha.org . Applicants to the workshop will be accepted on a monthly, rolling basis by our Selection Committee and will be informed of the committee’s determination to attend thereafter.

The application deadline for the 2020 H.E.L.P. workshop is September 1, 2020.

Registration Fees

There are no registration fees for attending the Center’s H.E.L.P. workshop. Each participant is responsible for paying their own airfare, lodging and meals while attending the workshop. The Center’s H.E.L.P. workshop coordination team will provide recommended lodging, directions and administrative guidance upon inquiry. Please note that the Center does not have scholarship funding available for prospective participants.

Academic Credit

For selected H.E.L.P. workshop participants interested in earning an optional three (3) graduate level credits through the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the Center will provide contact information to coordinate receiving credits from the University. Please note this is not directly managed through CFE-DM and requires a separate application and additional, University-driven admission requirements. University tuition fees will be waived for those attending the workshop; although a non-refundable administration fee of ~$130.00 USD will be collected by the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is the sole responsibility of participants to pay that are electing to receive the credits.

Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the workshop, participants will be awarded a Certificate of Completion by the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Daily attendance and the submission of a presentation highlighting an experience or research related to the H.E.L.P. workshop are pre-requisites for receiving the Certificate of Completion. Additional guidance on participant presentations will be provided to selected participants.

Contact Information

Please contact the below members of our H.E.L.P. workshop program management team if you have any questions that have not covered on the website.

Administrative Inquiries:

Ms. Stephanie Liu, Administrative Assistant
+1 (808) 472-0504

Workshop Content Inquiries:

Mr. Trevor Monroe
Program Manager, Health and Humanitarian Crises Workshops
Training and Engagements Branch
+1 (808) 472-0381

Thank you for your interest in attending our 2020 Health Emergencies in Large Populations (H.E.L.P.) workshop. We look forward to receiving your application.

1 International Committee of the Red Cross. H.E.L.P.: A Public Health Course in the Management of Humanitarian Aid. October 2001.
2 Assistance: For People Affected by Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence: Second Edition. International Committee of the Red Cross. 2012.

Workshop Dates

Dates: 7 - 18 December 2020

Location: Virtual Course

Partnerships: CFE-DM, ICRC, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Application Deadline: September 1, 2020

Apply Now


Please contact the H.E.L.P. Workshop Coordination Team to register for a Workshop or to get additional information.
Trevor Monroe, H.E.L.P. Workshop Manager
Stephanie Liu, Administrative Assistant