Course syllabus for

Health assistance in humanitarian crisis, 12 credits

Hälsoinsatser i humanitära kriser, 12 hp
This course syllabus is valid from autumn 2021.
Please note that the course syllabus is available in the following versions:
Spring2018 , Autumn2021 , Autumn2023
Course code
Course name
Health assistance in humanitarian crisis
12 credits
Form of Education
Contract education (credits)
Main field of study 
Public Health Sciences 
AV - Second cycle 
Grading scale
Fail (U) or pass (G)
Department of Global Public Health
Decided by
Utbildningsnämnden PHS
Decision date
Revised by
Education Committee GPH
Last revision
Course syllabus valid from
Autumn 2021

Specific entry requirements

Board-certified health professionals


The overall aim of the course is to provide competencies, strategies and tools to enable the students to work as humanitarian health assistance staff. 

After the course the student should be able to: 
Knowledge and understanding

  • describe and explain the general global health situation and factors that determine variations and summarize general strategies  relevant for improving global health
  • in relation to common communicable diseases: describe the global burden, vulnerable groups, transmission, clinical manifestation and management 
  • in relation to maternal- and child health: describe the global burden, clinical manifestation and management of common diseases and disorders 

Skill, abilities, judgment and approach
Within humanitarian contexts, the student should be able to:

  • identify, interpret and summarise information related to the interrelationship between hazardous events, vulnerable populations and health outcome 
  • assess health strategies limiting morbidity and mortality 
  • plan for health promotion programs
  • argue for key components needed and plan for the control of communicable diseases 
  • plan interventions for prevention and management of maternal and child health, including acute malnutrition.


The course basis is the global health situation and determinants for health.  It illustrates how context and different types of disasters affects public health. The course highlights health strategies aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality. It also provides concrete tools for planning and implementing humanitarian health assistance.
The course comprises a total of eight weeks (estimated to 12 credits), of combined campus and web based learning. 

The course focuses on humanitarian health assisetance from the following core areas. 

  • Global health overview
  • Communicable diseases, epidemic outbreaks 
  • Maternal and child health 

In addition to the core areas, the course also include non-communicable diseases, mental health and ethical dilemmas.

Detailed content: 
Global health and its variations, health in disasters 
The module focus on global health in a humanitarian context

  • The global health situation and health determinants
  • Health systems
  • Basic principles of epidemiology
  • Non-communicable diseases - global burden and strategies 
  • Mental health
  • Humanitarian health assistance, principles and scope:
    • main actors and coordination
    • needs assessment and planning of interventions
    • essential standards and guidelines
    • health priorities
    • health promotion 
    • mental health
    • trauma and mass-casualty management. 

Communicable diseases and epidemic outbreaks 
The module focus on communicable diseases and epidemic outbreaks.

  • The global health situation of communicable diseases and epidemic outbreaks
  • Common communicable diseases, including pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, etc. 
  • Principles of communicable disease control, including extended programme for immunization and other global disease control programmes
  • Response to epidemic outbreaks, such as measles, meningitis, hepatitis and shigellosis
  • Rational use of drugs

Maternal and child health
The module focus on maternal and child health in a humanitarian context

  • Maternal health, including sexual and reproductive health 
  • The global health situation of maternal health
  • Safe motherhood (antenatal, delivery and postpartum care)
  • Family planning and post abortion care
  • Health strategies and interventions concerning sexual and gender based violence, including female genital mutilation
  • Child health and the global health situation of child health
  • Integrated management of childhood diseases
  • Neonatology and care of the newborn child
  • Preventive, integrated and curative health services for common child diseases and health threats
  • Care and management of acute malnutrition

Teaching methods

Interactive lectures, discussion seminars, group assignments and clinical simulation exercises.


The course will be examined individually through a written exam. 
The course will also be examined through five group assignments that will be examined in writing and in oral presentations. The groups will also be examined through a peer-learning part where the students will review and give feed-back on each other's work. 

The group assignments are collected throughout the course, while the oral presentations take place in in seminars during the last week on campus. 

The student receives one final grade for the whole course (Pass/Fail). In order to pass the course, the student must pass on the individual examination and also on all five group assignments. 

Limitation of number of occasions to write the exam
The student has the right to write the exam six times. If the student has not passed the exam after four participations he/she is encouraged to visit the study advisor.
The number of times that the student has participated in one and the same examination is regarded as an examination session. Submission of a blank examination is regarded as an examination. An examination for which the student registered but not participated in will not be counted as an examination.

Literature and other teaching aids

Additional material and reference literture will be added during the course

WHO (2013) Pocket book of Hospital care for children: Guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources, 2nd edition:
WHO child growth standards and the identification of severe acute malnutrition in infants and children
Essential drugs: Practical guidelines:
Health in Humanitarian Emergencies : Principles and Practice for Public Health and Healthcare Practitioners Townes, David
Jacobsen Introduction to Global Health
Eriksson, Anneli Estimating needs in disasters
Cuesta, Gil Improving the evidence base of health interventions in humanitarian crises
Clinical guidelines: Diagnosis and treatment manual for curative programmes in hospitals and dispensaries
Essential drugs: Practical guidelines: