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Training of Health Care Professionals on the Special Needs of Children in the Management of Disasters: Experience in Asia, Africa, and Latin America

  • Karen Olness
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Karen Olness, MD, Director, Rainbow Center for International Child Health, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-6038
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  • Madhumita Sinha
    Affiliations
    From the Rainbow Center for International Child Health (Drs Olness, Herran, Cheren), Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio; Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine (Dr Sinha), Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix, Ariz; and Department of Pediatrics (Dr Pairojkul), Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand
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  • Marisa Herran
    Affiliations
    From the Rainbow Center for International Child Health (Drs Olness, Herran, Cheren), Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio; Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine (Dr Sinha), Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix, Ariz; and Department of Pediatrics (Dr Pairojkul), Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand
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  • Mark Cheren
    Affiliations
    From the Rainbow Center for International Child Health (Drs Olness, Herran, Cheren), Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio; Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine (Dr Sinha), Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix, Ariz; and Department of Pediatrics (Dr Pairojkul), Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand
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  • Srivieng Pairojkul
    Affiliations
    From the Rainbow Center for International Child Health (Drs Olness, Herran, Cheren), Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio; Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine (Dr Sinha), Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix, Ariz; and Department of Pediatrics (Dr Pairojkul), Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand
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      Background.—Although children are the most vulnerable group in any disaster, limited information exists regarding their unique needs in complex humanitarian emergencies.
      Objective.—To review the experiences gained in designing and implementing a training course for international health care professionals in disaster management focused on the needs of children.
      Methods.—The format, content, learning objectives, teaching methods, course evaluation, and feedback of a training course on managing complex humanitarian emergencies with a focus on the special needs of children were reviewed.
      Results.—The 5-day course was first conducted at Case Western Reserve University in 1996. Since then, it has been replicated 15 times, annually in the United States, and in 7 overseas venues, including Thailand, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Panama, Syria, and India. Voluntary US and international faculty used a problem-based learning method to train health care workers from developing countries in providing rapid quality care to child disaster victims. The courses were well received in every venue, as evidenced by active participation of local medical professionals, who organized logistics, recruited participants, and led the process of adapting the course to local needs. A remarkable outcome of this training course has been the development of an international group of highly motivated professionals involved in disseminating information to relief workers at a local level and providing a supportive network among themselves.
      Conclusion.—A comprehensive training program targeted for health care professionals, conducted by mutually respectful local and international faculty, is an effective instrument for disseminating information and enhancing competence to help children in disasters.

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