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A refugee camp in Barcelona?

Campo refugiados collage.jpg
Photo: Aleix Cabrera / ISGlobal - Initial Humanitarian Response to Displaced Populations workshop, Master in Global Health ISGlobal-UB.

For two weeks, students on the ISGlobal-University of Barcelona’s Master in Global Health learned how the main humanitarian organisations work in humanitarian emergencies: what challenges they face and how they manage to reduce the mortality, morbidity and suffering among the affected populations. The course was coordinated and conducted by La Cooperativa Humanitaria.


The first thing we had to do was to find the place and set up camp. We had 20 minutes and we did it in 19! Tents, latrine and shower in the outdoor area of the Piscina Sant Jordi in Barcelona. The workshop on Initial Humanitarian Response to Displaced Populations began and we applied all the concepts and skills we had learned during throughout the course "Global Health Responses in Emergencies and Humanitarian Crises" course. The idea was to simulate how we would initially respond to a newly displaced population. We used the case study we had discussed in class.



We were twenty-seven students from thirteen different countries (Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, Lebanon, Australia, Mexico...) with different backgrounds, not always medical: nurses, midwives, doctors, engineers, dentists, public health specialists and communication experts. We made up an enthusiastic and motivated team with a strong bond. Having a diverse team allowed us to think about how to make the most of everyone's strengths.


How to respond to a mass influx of patients

The ten-day course (from 24 April to 5 May 2023) also included a Mass Casualty Plan simulation workshop. Many of us agreed that it was one of the best sessions of the whole Masters course. We had to organise and coordinate the response to a hypothetical mass influx of patients, introducing us to the use of contingency plans and the triage system. It was intense! We staged a real-life situation, with groups of students coordinating the response team, organising the available space and then caring for the 'patients' who were arriving by the minute. After the activity, we commented on the adrenaline in the room and how it all seemed almost real.



As a healthcare professional, I was surprised by how real the activities felt and how they allowed me to think about how I would act in such situations. The adrenaline rush we felt during the mass casualty simulation was partly similar to that of a hospital emergency department at certain times. Having to work together to coordinate a team, organise roles and change routine activities for a mass casualty event made me reflect on how difficult it is to adapt to such rapid and unpredictable changes. It was certainly a valuable session.

In addition to these two very dynamic and practical activities, the course included basic lessons, group case studies and presentations. We learned about the main components needed to respond to humanitarian emergencies and addressed the main challenges and dilemmas faced in the field. Through different modules, we were able to acquire the concepts of data collection and epidemiology to initially assess a humanitarian crisis, apply them to detect alerts and emergencies, and finally use all the information to design the most appropriate humanitarian response.


Thanks to the passion transmitted

All the students of the Masters Class of 2023 would like to thank La Cooperativa Humanitaria and especially Núria, Xavier, Irene and Nines for the incredible course and the enormous effort they have put into it. We really appreciate your teaching, your comments and the way you have managed to transmit your passion for what you do. We really appreciate your teaching, your feedback and the way you have managed to pass on your passion for what you do. Thank you so much! (Sydney, Trupti, Sophie, Natakki, Sara, Chelsie, Kate, Laura, Lea, Silvia, Paulina, Gaelle, Dounia, Annabel, Marcos, Krissy, Veronica, Razan, Valerie, Stefania, Samantha, Luisa, Emma).