Master of Public Health: track in Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict-affected Environments

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Starting date17-09-2018
Duration1 year
Course dates (2018-2019)17-09-2018 until 06-09-2019
KIT application deadline NFP applicants01-04-2018
NFP application deadlinetba (April 2018)
KIT application deadline other funding15-07-2018
LocationKIT Amsterdam
FeeEUR 16.841 (2018)

This track is targeted at those who aspire to work in or with countries in crisis, working as health personnel in government institutions, NGO’s, UN agencies and humanitarian organisations.

The Master of Public Health/International Course in Health Development (MPH/ICHD) is an annual 12-month Master of Public Health programme organised by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).  Participants can choose from the following study tracks:  Health Systems Policy & Management track, Sexual and Reproductive Health track and Track in Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict-affected Environments.

The MPH is accredited by the Netherlands-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO).


Public health in a changing environment

Health systems in low-and middle-income countries face a wide range of complex challenges. These
challenges include, but are not limited to: the inequalities in health and healthcare; the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases; the challenges presented by the unfolding demographic transition; the health needs in fragile environments, and the call for equity.
The worlds of international and national health governance and financing are also increasingly complex and interconnected. Globally, there is also a greater recognition of, and emphasis upon the importance of working in partnerships, at all times, to provide evidence-based public health solutions for continuously improving the quality and responsiveness of health services. Providing an effective response to these issues requires well-trained professionals able to solve complex public health problems systematically, using a partnership approach.

Course Objectives

The MPH/ICHD is designed to develop the capacity of senior health managers to use an integrated,
multi-disciplinary approach to address health problems in their country.
At the end of the programme, you will be able to:

  • Critically assess population health status and identify population health problems, risk factors and
    determinants, and determine health needs.
  • Appraise the role of health systems in terms of fundamental goals, functions, actors and performance.
  • Influence effective policy-making and strategic planning concerning interventions aiming at
    improving public health, taking into account scientific evidence, good practice and local context.
  • Creatively implement, cost-effective, quality client-centred strategies and interventions.
  • Monitor and evaluate health interventions by effectively managing human, financial and logistic
    resources in the dynamic global and local context.
  • Work professionally across different sectors, different cultures, disciplines and institutional levels, with private and public actors, and through advocacy, communication and networking.
  • Identify research needs; commission research, and critically analyse and translate research results into policy and practice.
  • Incorporate a pro-poor and equity approach in all actions.
  • Continuously examine and critically self-reflect on their own cultural competence, motivation, practice and values, adjust them accordingly, and act as an agent of change.

MPH/ICHD participants have the option choosing between four tracks:

  • MPH/ICHD track in Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict-affected Environments
  • MPH/ICHD track in Health Systems Policy & Management
  • MPH/ICHD track in Sexual and Reproductive Health

The MPH program consists of three trimesters.

First trimester Core modules for all tracks:

  • Introduction
  • Epidemiology and statistics
  • Learning and communication skills
  • Social determinants of Health
  • Health systems and policy making
  • Health planning

The introduction to the MPH/ICHD starts with learning and communication skills that will be needed throughout the course. These include skills in internet searches for health-related information and literature, use of the library, and presentation and writing skills.

In the first trimester students are introduced to the broad categories of factors that influence health: culture, lifestyle, socio-economic, political and natural environments and the impact of the health care delivery system. Throughout the course there is a strong emphasis on the gendered nature of many of these factors.

Basic concepts and tools for the analysis and discussion of health problems through modules in health planning and management are introduced, including health economics and financing and epidemiology and statistics. The basic knowledge and skills acquired or reinforced in the first part of the course will be applied to a practical strategic planning exercise carried out in small groups. Towards the end of the first trimester, students begin to clarify their thesis topics and investigate the literature related to those topics.

Second trimester Advanced courses for all tracks:

Advanced courses for track in Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict-affected Environments:

In addition to following the advanced modules listed here, students are expected to contribute to a series of debate sessions by presenting a statement, facilitating/participating in the debate, and providing feedback. Students will also spend time working on their thesis.

Third trimester

  • Visit to WHO
  • Thesis
  • Oral examination

With guidance from an advisor, participants write a thesis on an important health problem they have been involved with in their country. The aim is to systematically analyse the problem and make suggestions for its solution, based on qualitative and quantitative information participants have brought with them, and on literature review.

The last three months of the course are devoted to finalising the thesis with individual tutoring and visiting the World Health Organisation in Geneva. In the week before the oral examinations, students practice presenting their thesis to each other in class.

Learning methods

The content of the course is practice-based and oriented as much as possible to the working situation of participants. Contact between teaching staff and students is intensive throughout the course. Students learn through lectures, discussions, group work, individual presentations, case studies, exercises, study visits, an internet-based virtual learning environment and ‘serious gaming’, self-reflection, self-study and written assignments including a thesis. They receive study material before each module. During the lessons students share information about health issues of countries in which they have worked and compare experiences. Online repositories are used for learning material. Laptops and/or tablets are required.

Study load

A total of 60 EC credit points must be accumulated for successful completion of the ICHD/MPH programme. The European Credit Transfer System (EC) facilitates transfer of course credits between institutions at the same academic level. 1 ECTS requires 28 hours of student time, which includes class time and independent study.

Graduation requirements

Each module is assessed by means of either a written examination or a take-home assignment. At the end of the programme, an independent external examination committee assesses the thesis and the candidate’s oral examination.

If the overall assessment is satisfactory, the degree of Master of Public Health is awarded. Candidates who do not meet the requirements for the degree may be eligible for a certificate of attendance.

Part-time programme Master of Public Health

For part-time options click here:
Part-time Master of Public Health

Admission criteria

  • Academic training to at least bachelor’s degree level, either in medicine or in another field related to health, such as health sciences, economics, social science or nursing.
  • A minimum of three years of experience, including managerial responsibilities in health related services in a low resource country.
  • Proven proficiency in spoken and written English.
  • Computer literacy is expected.

The number of participants is limited. Because there are always more applicants than places in the course, a selection must be made of those meeting the above mentioned criteria. The selection committee takes into account country of origin, experience and professional background in order to compose a group with a mixture of professional and geographical backgrounds. An adequate representation of women is also sought; women with appropriate training and experience are especially encouraged to apply.

Application procedure

For students who wish to apply for the Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP), the entire application package to KIT is due at the latest by 01 April 2018.
NFP application deadline (tba, exptected): April 2018. See our NFP page for more information.

For other applicants the application package is due two months before the start of the course.

Please upload your application online:

The following documents should be uploaded:

  • A one-page letter of motivation
  • Copies of your diplomas and grade reports
  • An up-to-date curriculum vitae and a list of publications if applicable
  • Proof of English proficiency (if applicable)

KIT and VU University Amsterdam require all applicants who have not completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, South Africa, Uganda or who have not obtained an International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma to enclose proof of English language proficiency in the form of the internationally recognised TOEFL or IELTS tests.

A minimum TOEFL score of 5.5 or a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 is required.
Please note that candidates must take the Academic test and not the General one.

For Dutch participants academic training is sufficient.

Candidates fulfilling the MPH/ICHD entry requirements will receive a letter of admission, admitting them to the course provided that financing can be arranged. Once you have secured financial support and provided evidence of proficiency in English, you will receive a definitive letter of admission.

Note: Participants with a source of guaranteed financing have until 15 July 2018 to apply to the MPH/ICHD. However, the course is often full earlier. Also organising practical matters like visa and accommodation can take several months to process. Therefore candidates are therefore advised to apply early.


For cancellation within seven days no fee is required and 100 per cent of the fee will be reimbursed if already paid. For cancellation by candidate see cancellation fees.

FAQ Online Application System

Do you have a question about our Online Application System? Then you can find the answer in our FAQ Online Application System:

Go to our FAQ Online Application System-page 


Classes are held at KIT’s training facilities in Amsterdam.


The arrangement of financial support to cover all study costs is the responsibility of the applicant. Please note that KIT does not offer financial support or fellowships.

Some candidates are sponsored by their own governments, universities or employers while others apply for fellowships offered through the United Nations and its specialised agencies such as UNICEF, WHO, WB, UNDP or through other international programmes, such as those of OECD, EU or OAS. For more information on these and other possibilities,  go to the KIT fellowship webpage.

Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP)

One possibility for obtaining a fellowship is through the Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP).

The NFP application will have to be done via a new online application system (ATLAS). NFP application deadline for 2018-2019 will be announced (expected: March 2018).
Please note that the academic application to the Royal Tropical Institute has to be received at the latest 1 month before the NFP deadline (so  01 february 2018). You are advised however to apply to the Royal Tropical Institute as early as possible.
See the detailed instructions on NFP fellowship application procedures..

The Netherlands Government does not grant a fellowship unless it is assured that the candidate’s government and employer agree to his or her participation and that the candidate will be admitted to the course. For this reason, it is essential to first gain admission to the ICHD before applying for a fellowship.


KIT will secure accommodation for participants with a NFP fellowship and assist others in their search for housing if the request is received before 1 May. After this date we cannot guarantee accommodation. Note that when accommodation is arranged by KIT it is for the duration of the course. A shorter lease period is not allowed. There is a severe shortage of student accommodation in Amsterdam and participants are advised to contact KIT for information.

Visa requirements

Citizens of most EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries do not need a visa to enter the Netherlands. Visit the Nuffic website for the latest information on visa requirements.

Participants from other countries who will stay for longer than three months in the Netherlands will need an ‘Authorization for Temporary Stay’ (MVV) and residence permit to enter the country. This visa should be applied for through KIT.

Participants admitted to the course will receive detailed information as well as a list of documents KIT requires to secure their visa. Applicants should take into account that in some countries this procedure may take several months.

Insurance requirements

The Netherlands has no national health insurance. According to Dutch law, all participants of international courses and any accompanying dependents are required to have health, accident and third party insurance.

Unless their current insurance policy covers their stay in the Netherlands, participants must insure themselves and their dependents in the Netherlands. Dutch insurance companies offer reasonable rates to foreign students. Please note that holders of a NFP fellowship are automatically insured but their dependents are not.

For more information on insurance visit the Nuffic website.


The MPH/ICHD is accredited by the Netherlands-Flemish Accreditation Organization (NVAO).

A number of advanced MPH/ICHD modules are also accredited for the Master’s in International Health programme organised by tropEd, a network of European institutions for higher education in international health. KIT and the MPH/ICHD were positively assessed during a review by tropEd.

European Credits

The European Credit Transfer System (EC) facilitates the transfer of course credits between different institutions of the same academic level. A module comprising 28 hours of formal teaching and private study is equivalent to one EC credit point.


This Track is new so we do not yet have testimonials for this course. See below a selection of testimonials on our other courses:

Khalid SharifiThe MPH study program was comprehensive and mixed of theories, practices, skills, tools to apply the knowledge, and real examples from developing countries. Program topics were all interesting and relevant to practical work in the field. With what I learned I can contribute to strengthening the policy and strategies relevant to health in Afghanistan.”

Khalid Sharifi from Afghanistan, MPH/ICHD 2010, background medical doctor, now working as Managing Director of Afghan NGO, Social and Health Development Program (SHDP).

john-kingsley-krugu rev“In our time, organizations and technology are evolving so rapidly that health care professionals must continually seek new skills and perspectives that enable them not only to respond to change, but also to anticipate it. And this is exactly what we were trained in KIT. Besides these academic competencies that are making a lot of difference in what I do now, staying and studying in Amsterdam also had positive effects in many ways; the principles of “equal opportunity for all people, irrespective of gender, age, race or religion” were visible in all aspects of the Dutch life.”

John Kingsley Krugu from Ghana, MPH/ICHD 2010, background in biological sciences, now PHD Research Fellow at Maastricht University.

Shaza Sidahmed“I work as a deputy manager in the Federal Ministry of Health within the department for emergency and humanitarian action. We cover natural disasters and conflict-affected areas, which, sadly, are numerous. By designing and implementing capacity building programmes, and working together with health partners and international donors, we try to improve our public health sector at regional levels. I came to KIT because I wanted to add more knowledge to my experience. I hope that my master’s degree from KIT will help me to influence decision-makers in Sudan.”

Shaza Sidahmed from Sudan, MPH/ICHD 2012, background medical doctor. Working for Federal Ministry of Health.

Francis-Xavier Andoh-Adjei“At KIT I was particularly impressed about the course content, the teaching staff composed of world class public health experts and leading academics and researchers, as well as the support staff whose teaching, guidance and administrative support combined to improve my academic orientation and shape my thoughts about public health and its practice.”
Francis-Xavier Andoh-Adjei from Ghana, MPH/ICHD 2010, now working as Deputy Director for Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation and International Relations at the National Health Insurance Authority in Ghana. He is enrolled at Radboud University Medical Centre-Nijmegen as PHD Researcher in Health Systems and Policy.

Fried Lammerink Semongkong, Lesotho revAs a health manager by profession I have mainly worked in the Netherlands. This MPH/ICHD has given me the opportunity to look beyond the borders of my home country. I did not only gain knowledge but also worked with health workers from 25 different countries which had a huge impact on my own ideas about global health. Working in an International health environment was a real privilege and I have enjoyed every moment.”

Fried Lammerink from the Netherlands, MPH/ICHD 2009, educational background: Nursing & Management. Now working as Policy Advisor Government of Lesotho.

Copyrighted by Michelle Wong PhotoArtistry ” I was doing my internship when the HIV pandemic was raging in Zambia. There was no access to ARVs in the public sector. You basically certified people dead everyday of your work. This disturbed me and I decided to go into research. Though I had theoretical knowledge, research opened my eyes to public health. This was the start of my interest of public health. I heard about KIT and talked to the school of medicine, public health department about KIT. I was informed the teaching skills were good. People who study at KIT perform very well in public health. So I decided to go to KIT. Studying at KIT helped me to have a critical mind. It also helped me to really think out of the box

In my last month at KIT I applied for a position as Program Manager for cervical cancer prevention in my organization. I am still working with the cervical cancer prevention programme. I am now the Director of the programme having grown the programme from a local project to a National project. There was no way I was going to do all that without the training in public health at KIT. My thesis was on cervical cancer screening. I had a lot of guidance on screening during the training. The lectures in Epidemiology came in hand as well.

Right now we have screened close to 200,000 women in the cervical cancer programme which has never happened before in this country. Though the incidence and mortality rates are still high there has been massive awareness on the disease.

We have also managed to have international recognition on the programme and have trained people from 11 other African countries.”

Sharon Kapambwe from Zambia,  MPH, background medical doctor. Currently working as director of National Cancer Prevention Centre