The world has faced huge disasters over the last few decades and concerns have been expressed by nearly all international agencies involved that there is a scarcity of managerial skills to deal with the mitigation and management of disasters. Disaster risks are also on the increase throughout Africa and Southern Africa because of changes in the development process, settlement patterns and conflicts in the region. Emergency physicians are but one important resource in dealing with disasters. The need for a comprehensive multisectoral approach to disasters and more importantly to deal with its mitigation is becoming increasingly evident, especially in developing countries. Hence, the need for specially trained professionals in disaster management. In an effort to improve national, regional and continental capacity, and in support of the South African Disaster Management Act, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, has developed a Master of Public Health degree in Disaster Management. The MPH is aimed at preparing professionals from health and allied fields to play leadership roles in the management, improvement and evaluation of health and the health-care system. Emergency physicians have an important role to play in the development of disaster medicine and disaster management programmes and it is important that they engage in this activity, collaborating with colleagues of various other disciplines as appropriate. The following paper outlines the background to the programme and the current programme.