Health in Humanitarian Crises

Discover the health needs of those affected by humanitarian crises, challenges of delivering healthcare, and what we must do next.


Humanitarian crises due to armed conflict, natural disasters, disease outbreaks and other hazards are a major and growing contributor to ill-health and vulnerability worldwide, and their continuing effects on health and health systems can undermine decades of social development.



A new free online course offered by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on the health needs of those affected by humanitarian crises, the challenges of delivering healthcare and what needs to be done.

Overview - Health in Humanitarian Crises

Humanitarian crises present a number of distinct challenges for public health interventions and research. These include violence and insecurity, mass population displacement, severely deteriorated daily living conditions and impoverishment. They can also cause sudden and widespread disruption to health services and the broader health system, and limit domestic access to human, financial and technical resources alongside an increasing need to coordinate aid from outside the country.  

This free online course is designed to answer key questions including:  

  • What are the key health needs in humanitarian crises?  
  • How can we develop responses to health needs in humanitarian settings with maximum impact?  
  • How will we respond to health needs in the future?

Understand the health challenges before, during and after a humanitarian crisis  

Our course will begin by thinking about the key characteristics of humanitarian crises, describing some of the key political, economic and social factors that contribute to humanitarian crises and their effects on health and healthcare systems.  

We will then move on to look at the practical responses to health needs in humanitarian crises, including how and why we prioritise health interventions, the ways in which these might be conducted on the ground, and the evidence gathered and used to make decisions.  

Finally we will look ahead, identifying the new and continuing challenges facing the world, the potential health innovations and technologies that may help address these issues, and hearing experts’ perspectives on the future landscape of humanitarianism and health.  

Learn with humanitarian crisis experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and beyond  

The course has been developed by the Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.  

The Centre brings together multi-disciplinary researchers and practitioners from across the School, other academic institutions, NGOs, governments and United Nations agencies to focus on improving the health of populations affected by humanitarian crises.

Entry requirements
Entry requirements - Health in Humanitarian Crises

The course will be particularly relevant to healthcare practitioners and NGO staff, especially those in low- and middle-income countries affected by armed conflict, natural disasters and disease outbreaks. It will also be valuable to individuals studying health or development and to anyone with an interest in the challenges of delivering healthcare in a crisis setting.

Course acknowledgements
Course acknowledgements - Health in Humanitarian Crises

Lead Educators: Karl Blanchet, Jennifer Palmer, and Bayard Roberts

Course initiation and content design: Karl Blanchet, Joanna Stroud, and Adrienne Testa

Course production: Karl Blanchet, Jessica Petz, Kes Stern, Joanna Stroud, and Adrienne Testa

Course promotion: Jessie Schmitz

Steering committee: Markus Forsberg (Professional in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection; PHAP), Natasha Howard, Jean-Marie Kindermans (Médecins Sans Frontières; MSF), Esperanza Martinez (International Committee of the Red Cross; ICRC), Jennifer Palmer, and Bayard Roberts.

Many people have been involved in the development of this course and we would like to thank them for their hard work and valuable contributions.

Contributors from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Magdalena Bondos
Hilary Bower
Claire Bertschinger
Arlinda Cerga-Pashoja
Francesco Checchi
Mark Fletcher
Severine Frison
Judith Glynn
Marko Kerac
Hannah Kuper
John Manton
Joshua Mendelsohn
Lucy Reynolds 
James Smith 
Jimmy Whitworth
Musa Yousuf

Contributors from other organisations

Bakri Abubakr, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
Christina Bennett, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
Markus Geisser, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Theo Hannides, BBC Media Action
Kiran Jobanputra, Médecins Sans Frontières UK (MSF UK)
Randolph Kent, King’s College London
Alain Labrique, Johns Hopkins University
Chris Lewis, Department for International Development (DFID)
Louis Lillywhite, Chatham House
Iain McLellan, International Organization for Migration (IOM), South Sudan
Amanda McClelland, International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Sara Nam, Options
Dorothy Peprah, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Sierra Leone
Jo Puri, 3iE
Akihiro Seita, United Nations Relief & Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA)
Paul Spiegel, Johns Hopkins University