Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 2 (Coursera)

Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 2 is a free online MOOC Course, Offered by Johns Hopkins University via Coursera.

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Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 2 Online Course Overview

This course, Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 2, addresses public health issues of people affected by disasters, both natural or conflict-related.

It discusses the many changes that occur in people’s lives when they are uprooted by a disaster, including many important topics related to humanitarian crises, such as when there is an epidemic a public health emergency; what do we mean with the humanitarian-development nexus; what are the basics of disaster epidemiology and surveillance; humanitarian principles; and other very relevant topics.

We will explore what humanitarian interventions could look like if we want to mitigate the effects of disasters.

This course is a follow-up to Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 1, which dealt with changes in disease patterns, access to health care, livelihoods, shelter, sanitary conditions, nutritional status, and other issues.

The course content is a mix of theoretical knowledge and many practical examples from recent disasters.

We think this course is unique because it contains so many practical ‘real-life examples and is taught by instructors and guest lecturers who together have over 200 years of experience in this field.

The course consists of 10 modules totaling approximately 14-16 hours of delivered content with an additional 2-3 hours of self-work (quizzes and writing and evaluating a short peer-review assignment) as well as lively discussions forums.

The first course, Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 1 (PHHC1), has been designed in a way that each module builds on the lessons of previous modules. However, the modules from this second course, Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 2 (PHHC2) can be accessed in any order and some can stand alone. You do not necessarily need to do PHHC1 before PHHC2, but it might be helpful to take some or all of PHHC1, as some of the basic or fundamental issues are covered in this course. PHHC2 contains a somewhat more diverse set of topics than the previous course as it deals with more complicated issues.

You do not have to pay for this course if you choose to enroll without a certificate. Sometimes referred to as auditing, enrolling without a certificate means that you will have access to all of the videos and discussions. The only difference is that you will not be able to take the quizzes to earn a certificate upon completion.

Course Syllabus


  • Module 1: Disease Outbreak Management (Kevin Clarke) – This module describes features and strategies to detect disease outbreaks and the key aspects of an effective outbreak response.
  • Module 2: Maternal and Newborn Health (Hannah Tappis) – Maternal and newborn health care is an essential component of humanitarian health response. This module explains why and lists the key interventions at different phases of an emergency.


  • Module 3: Disaster Epidemiology and Surveillance (Les Roberts) – This module explains the importance and use of surveys and surveillance in humanitarian crises and uses many practical examples to illustrate the concepts.
  • Module 4: Humanitarian Principles (Gilbert Burnham) – This module describes the core humanitarian principles, their origin and explains how ethics can guide humanitarian decision-making.


  • Module 5: International Health Regulations and the Global Health Security Agenda (Lauren Sauer) – Disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies continue to increase in frequency and severity. This module describes the basic concepts of the International Health Regulations and the Global Health Security Agenda. It provides understanding when an emergency is a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
  • Module 6: Humanitarian and Development Nexus (Paul Spiegel) – In this module, the humanitarian-development nexus is explained together with the challenges of providing emergency assistance while taking into account the longer-term development needs of the host population and government.


  • Module 7: Infant Feeding in Disasters (Mija Ververs) – This module illustrates why infant feeding matters in a disaster setting, what to do, and how to identify the warning signs for potential problems on infant feeding in a disaster.
  • Module 8: Humanitarian Project Design (Gilbert Burnham) – Planning is necessary for humanitarian emergencies. This module illustrates in practical terms the planning cycle and how this is used in humanitarian emergencies.


  • Module 9: Sexual and Reproductive Health (Hannah Tappis) – In each crisis-affected populations still have sexual and reproductive health needs. This module describes the essential sexual and reproductive health services at different phases of an emergency.
  • Module 10: Mental Health and Psycho-Social Care (Sarah Murray)– Psychosocial and mental health problems are commonly experienced by disaster-affected populations. This module identifies strategies for the identification of psychosocial and mental health problems in displaced populations and provides information on what can be done in the field.

Final Project: Responding to a Humanitarian Public Health Crisis

In this module, you’ll plan a response to a real humanitarian public health crisis.

Course Instructor

  • Gilbert Burnham, MD
  • Mija Ververs

Additional information

Course Delivery


Course Efforts

12 Hours

Course Enrollment


Course Language


Course Length

5 Weeks

Course Level


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Course School

Course Subtitles

English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

Flexible Learning


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