The 2016 class brought together the most geographically diverse group of practitioners yet, from 20 different nationalities, who have lived and worked in 80 countries altogether, bringing extensive experience and insights from the global health and humanitarian sectors.
The course topics focused on logistics and supply-chain management related to a broad range of activities including preparing, responding to, and recovering from natural and man-made disasters, as well as ongoing humanitarian crises due to war, famine, infectious diseases, and chronic health problems.
Participants learned critical skills in disaster response planning and forecasting as well as tools for tactical decision making under uncertainty. Wendi McAfee, Program Coordinator for the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center at the Task Force for Global Health reflected: “The Systems Dynamics framework was incredibly well presented, and has given me not only a new career interest but also a tool with which to analyze and understand complex problems, including both the problems faced by humanitarian organizations and the problems they create.”
Likewise, Sanne Wijnhorst, Procurement Specialist for Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) reflected: “the course really enlightened me in many aspects of the humanitarian supply chain process. The forecasting and decision making tools will provide me with a lot of opportunities to optimize both processes and supply chains.” Rachel Gordon-Roberts, Logistics Coordinator, Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance from CARE USA also remarked on the relevance of the tools in helping her to “make use of inventory analysis, using more mathematical approach while planning and building strategies.”
The diversity of participants, both geographically and in terms of skills and experience in health and humanitarian operations across various sectors created a unique opportunity for new ways of “forming partnerships (formal or informal) for collaboration in the future,” as described by Dianne Lourenco, Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant at Village Reach in Mozambique.
Daniel Ngongo, Assistant Logistics Officer with the Management Science for Health(MSH/USAID) in DRC, also emphasized the value of an in-person format which allows for group cohesion and deeper knowledge sharing: “The diverse cohort provides examples and perspectives to support and complete the topics covered in lectures; conversations outside lectures during breaks and lunch were also a great way for us to learn from each other and absorb. Working in groups on class projects/games was a great way to learn as well.” Many others, including Matt Cohen-Price from Solaflect Energy, echoed this praise of the atmosphere of collaboration and future connection the course facilitates from participants’ shared experience: “Their experiences put the teachings into realistic perspective; they are smart, accomplished, dedicated friends whom I can call on or collaborate with in the future.”
Many of these participants rely on scholarships to attend professional education courses. The HHS Center is fortunate to provide a limited number of scholarships that are made available through the generosity of The UPS Foundation, Andrea L. Laliberte, Pete Quinones, and Richard E. and Charlene O. Zalesky. 2016 scholarship recipients represented organizations such as CARE (USA), Management Science for Health (MSH/USAID, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF Kenya), OXFAM DRC, Save the Children (Pakistan), in addition to United Nations agencies such as UNICEF (Ecuador), and the UN World Food Programme (WFP Nepal).
Other participants included representatives from national ministries of health in their countries, non-governmental organizations such as CDC (Ivory Coast), Chemonics, Emory University, LMI, Partners in Health (Lesotho), Solaflect Energy, UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, UNHCR Sudan, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Village Reach (Mozambique and USA), and the World Health Organization (Sudan).
The certificate program consists of three courses: Pre-planning Strategy for Health and Humanitarian Organizations; Tactical Decision Making in Public Health and Humanitarian Response; Systems Operations in Health and Humanitarian Response. It is offered in a 6-day format (2 days per course), which enables individuals traveling from outside of Atlanta the opportunity to earn a certificate in less than a week. The blended delivery format includes pre-course reading assignments, in-class lectures, discussion, interactive games and group work.
For information about the courses, visit: https://hhscenter.gatech.edu/professional-education.