The 2011 Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) report recognized that a system of "accountability, quality control, reporting, certification and coordination is inevitable." Both individual humanitarian responders and the humanitarian community as a whole share this obligation to the beneficiaries of their care. Significant inter-agency and regional differences in entry-level qualifications for humanitarian health workers have contributed to wide variation and unpredictability in humanitarian practice. The ad hoc, transient, and often "voluntary" nature of humanitarian health workers has also precluded systematic training, knowledge translation, and the monitoring, evaluation and evolution of field practices. In 2008, there were about 220,000 aid workers in the world, and the number has grown at about 6% yearly. Currently, the majority of aid workers come from Europe and North America, even as the need for humanitarian and disaster response in the most vulnerable regions of the world, including Asia, Africa and Latin America, is expected to grow over the coming decades. There is urgent need for higher education institutions and the humanitarian community to move rapidly toward the standardization of humanitarian training, and to provide this training in the most vulnerable regions of the world.
Several sector-wide networks have developed over recent years to address the issue of professionalization in humanitarian aid, such as the Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA) network. ELRHA supports linkages between higher education institutions and humanitarian partners around the world and consists of regional hubs around the world that are working together to standardize and professionalize the training of humanitarian aid workers.
As an established network, ELRHA provides PAATCHH a web of connections and channels of communication with other academic institutions and global humanitarian actors. These connections and information flows are vital in ensuring that the processes (of curriculum development, training, professionalization, and on-the-ground implementation in the sectors involved in humanitarian assistance) involve dialogue and feedback from all involved, from academics to practitioners.
PAATCHH, through its North American academic institutions, seeks to complement ELRHA’s UK-based academic connections with connections to universities in the United States and Canada.