Thursday, July 30, 2009

HELP Course Prepares International Participants to Respond to Humanitarian Disasters

(Submitted by Dr. Ruth Bessinger, HELP Course Coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance)

For the thirteenth year in a row, the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) and the International Committee of the Red Cross are collaborating on a course in Honolulu, Hawaii. This course, Health Emergencies in Large Populations (HELP), equips participants with the information and tools to plan and manage a response to humanitarian disasters.

The course, held July 13-30, attracted twenty-four participants from ten different countries including Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, Tonga, Thailand, and the U.S., half of which are in the military. Most are doctors and nurses and many hold senior-level positions in their countries’ ministry of health or armed forces, or work for non-governmental organizations. Among the participants are the Chief of the Health Emergency Preparedness Division in the Philippines, and a delegate from the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent in China.

The topics covered in the course are diverse and include water and sanitation, food and nutrition, communicable disease, mental health, humanitarian law, civilian-military coordination, and working with the media. As part of one exercise, HELP course participants built an emergency shelter using materials that are similar to those that refugees may receive during a humanitarian emergency.

Participants have shared their experiences responding to the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand and last year’s earthquake in China, working with refugees in Liberia and displaced persons in northern Thailand, and while conducting civil-military operations in Iraq.

(COE is a direct reporting unit to the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and its principal organization for promoting disaster preparedness in the Asia-Pacific region. COE partners with a wide variety of national and international governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to provide relevant education, training, interagency coordination and research. In addition, the improvement of humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities is a common challenge that continues to provide a framework for numerous military exercises and professional exchanges throughout the PACOM area of responsibility.)

No comments:

External Links Disclaimer
The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations.

Comment Policy
Comments are welcome. However, comments will be reviewed for the following prior to posting:
-Sexual content
-Overly graphic, disturbing or offensive material