Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

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Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response (CCOUC) (CCOUC灾害与人道救援研究所) (

Emily Y Y CHAN, CCOUC Director; Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Honorary Fellow, NDM, Oxford University; Fellow, FXB, Harvard University

CCOUC was established by The Chinese University of Hong Kong and University of Oxford in April 2011 to carry out research, training and community knowledge transfer in the area of disaster and medical humanitarian response in the Asia-Pacific region, aiming to establish a leading research and academic training centre in this field.  CCOUC’s vision is to minimise the negative health impact of disasters experienced by vulnerable populations via its various activities.


Full project description: 

CCOUC is the first of its kind in Asia aiming to conduct research, teaching and engage in knowledge transfer projects in public health and medical disaster response in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region.

Massive Open Online Course

CCOUC has developed the first MOOC in disaster and medical humanitarian response in Hong Kong and Asia in 2014 ( to provide spatial and temporal flexibility in learning for frontline responders and health professionals.  Four weeks after its launch in mid-June, 749 students have enrolled, of whom 347 (46.3%) come from Hong Kong while the rest from all six continents.

Public-health-informed frontline response experience

CCOUC members have rich frontline response experience informed by public health principles, uniquely among local and regional players in this area.  Since February 2009, more than 300 participants, mostly teachers and students of public health and medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong, Oxford University, Harvard University and Peking University, have joined the project team of CCOUC and its predecessor to a total of 22 remote villages across 8 poverty-stricken inland provinces in China, reaching out to 9 non-Han Chinese ethnic minority groups and 25,000 villages.  CCOUC has also organized summer school, regional and graduate fellowships to build capacity of researchers, practitioners and health professionals in the Asia-Pacific region to conduct research and engage in providing local and international medical humanitarian assistances based on internationally recognized standards.

Knowledge transfer and training experience

CCOUC was appointed as the Sphere Country Focal Point for China in August 2014 to promote the internationally recognized sets of minimum standards in life-saving areas of humanitarian response developed by the “Sphere Project” formed by major global humanitarian agencies and hosted by the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) in Geneva.  The Sphere Handbook, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response, is one of the most widely known and internationally recognized sets of common principles and universal minimum standards in life-saving areas of humanitarian response.  Since its inception, CCOUC has been promoting Sphere Standards in its education and knowledge transfer activities in the area of disaster and medical humanitarian response in Hong Kong, mainland China and the Asia region via its annual regional NGO Fellowship Programme, Training-of-Trainers programmes for NGOs in Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces in China and training workshops for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) and its provincial counterparts.

International collaboration experience

Uniquely among local and regional academic institutions in the field of disaster and medical humanitarian response, CCOUC has rich experience of collaborating with renowned international academic counterparts, including Oxford University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Western Australia, and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), a WHO Collaborating Centre housed at Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium.

Policy experience and international status

Since 2012, CCOUC has provided consultation to WHO on disaster health risk management and actively engaged in 5 WHO global and regional consultation meetings related to disaster and humanitarian affairs in its capacity as a consultancy agent for the WHO Health Emergency Risk Management Framework (HERMF).  In the November 2013 WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region Consultation Meeting held in Amman of Jordan, CCOUC was recognized as the only expert English-speaking academic team in China and Asia Pacific region who could contribute to the development of academic curriculum and training on emergency risk management and of a protocol for health emergency risk assessment.

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