Conflict and Health is an open access, peer-reviewed journal published by BioMed Central.

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The Globethics.net library contains articles of Conflict and Health as of vol. 1(2007) to current.

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  • Lay-delivered talk therapies for adults affected by humanitarian crises in low- and middle-income countries

    Grace K. Ryan; Andreas Bauer; Tarik Endale; Onaiza Qureshi; Asmae Doukani; Arlinda Cerga-Pashoja; Savvy K. Brar; Julian Eaton; Judith K. Bass (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background Published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2015, the mental health Gap Action Programme Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mhGAP-HIG) recommends brief versions of structured psychological interventions for people experiencing symptoms of common mental disorders (CMDs). mhGAP-HIG acknowledges a growing body of evidence suggesting these interventions can be delivered by lay workers to people affected by humanitarian crises in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, there has not yet been a systematic review and synthesis of this evidence. This paper reports the results of a systematic review of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies assessing the implementation and/or effectiveness of talk therapies for CMDs when provided by lay workers in LMICs to adults who have survived or are currently living in humanitarian situations. Methods Seven electronic databases were searched: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, PsycEXTRA, Global Health, Cochrane Library, and ClinicalTrials.gov . We also hand-searched the contents pages of three academic journals, reference lists of 30 systematic reviews, and online resource directories of two mental health networks. A preliminary list of included studies was circulated to topical experts for review, and all included studies were backward and forward searched. All titles, abstracts, and full-texts were independently double-screened. Quality appraisal and data extraction were carried out by a single reviewer and checked by a second reviewer, using standardised tools. Any disagreements were discussed and referred to a third reviewer as needed. Results We identified 23 unique studies and carried out a narrative synthesis of patient and implementation outcome data. Every evaluation of the effectiveness of lay-delivered talk therapies for adults affected by humanitarian crises in LMICs showed some treatment effect for at least one CMD, and often multiple CMDs. Implementation research generally found these interventions to be acceptable, appropriate and feasible to implement, with good fidelity to manualised therapies. Conclusion Although results are promising, particularly for individually-delivered talk therapies based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, there is a high degree of heterogeneity in this literature. We make several recommendations on how to improve the quality and generalisability of research on this topic, to facilitate further evidence synthesis. Trial registration PROSPERO registration number: CRD42017058287 .
  • Musculoskeletal impairment among Syrian refugees living in Sultanbeyli, Turkey: prevalence, cause, diagnosis and need for related services and assistive products

    Dorothy Boggs; Oluwarantimi Atijosan-Ayodele; Hisem Yonso; Nathaniel Scherer; Timothy O’Fallon; Gülten Deniz; Selin Volkan; Ahmed Örücü; Isotta Pivato; Ammar Hasan Beck (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background Epidemiological data on musculoskeletal impairment (MSI) and related service and assistive product (AP) needs for displaced populations are lacking. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence, aetiology, and specific MSI diagnosis and the need for related services and APs among Syrian refugees living in Sultanbeyli, a district in Istanbul, Turkey. Methods A population-based survey used probability proportionate to size and compact segment sampling to select 80 clusters (‘street’) of 50 individuals (aged 2+), for total sample size of approximately 4000 participants. An updated version of the Rapid Assessment of MSI tool (RAM) was used to screen all participants using six questions. Any participant who screened positive underwent a standardised examination by a physiotherapist to assess the presence, aetiology, severity and specific diagnosis of MSI and an assessment of need for related services and APs. Results The all-age prevalence of MSI was 12.2% (95% CI 10.8–13.7) and this increased significantly with age to 43.8% in people 50 and older. Over half (51%) of MSI was classified as moderate, 30% as mild and 19% as severe. The war in Syria was identified as the direct cause for 8% of people with MSI. The majority (56%) of MSI diagnoses were acquired non-traumatic causes. There was high unmet need for rehabilitation services; for example, 83% of people with MSI could benefit from physiotherapy but were not receiving this service. Overall, 19% of people with MSI had an unmet need for at least one AP. Apart from availability of walking sticks/canes, coverage was low with less than half the people with MSI who needed APs and services had received them. The most common reasons for not seeking services and APs were ‘need not felt’, lack of service availability and of awareness of services, and financial barriers. Conclusions MSI is common among the Syrian refugee population living in Sultanbeyli District, particularly older adults, however less than half have been able to access relevant services and APs. These findings can inform the planning of health services for migrant populations, including the essential integration of rehabilitation and APs, and increase access to these vital services.
  • Conducting research on building psychosocial support for Syrian refugee families in a humanitarian emergency

    Stevan Merill Weine; Aliriza Arënliu; Vahdet Görmez; Scott Lagenecker; Hakan Demirtas (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background This case study describes research, which is located in Turkey, where more than 750,000 Syrian refugees reside autonomously in Istanbul. The research developed and pilot tested a novel model for helping urban refugee families with limited to no access to evidence-based mental health services, by delivering a transdiagnostic family intervention for common mental disorders in health and non-health sector settings using a task-sharing approach. This case study addresses the following question: What challenges were encountered in developing and piloting a low intensity trans-diagnostic family support intervention in a humanitarian emergency setting? Discussion The rapidly growing scale of humanitarian crises requires new response capabilities geared towards addressing populations with prolonged high vulnerability to mental health consequences and limited to no access to mental health, health, and social resources. The research team faced multiple challenges in conducting this research in a humanitarian emergency setting including: 1) Non-existent or weak partnerships geared towards mental health research in a humanitarian emergency; 2) Lack of familiarity with task-sharing; 3). Insufficient language and cultural competency; 3) Fit with families’ values and demands; 4) Hardships of urban refugees. Through the research process, the research team learned lessons concerning: 1) building a coalition of academic and humanitarian organization partners; 2) investing in the research capacity building of local researchers and partners; 3) working in a community-collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach. Conclusion Conducting research in humanitarian emergency settings calls for innovative collaborative and multidisciplinary approaches to understanding and addressing many sociocultural, contextual, practical and scientific challenge.
  • Escaping the past and living in the present: a qualitative exploration of substance use among Syrian male refugees in Germany

    Jutta Lindert; Ulrike Neuendorf; Marta Natan; Ingo Schäfer (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background Syrians have been the largest group of refugees in Germany since 2014. Little is known about Syrian refugees` perspectives on substance use. The aim of this study is to investigate the perspective of male refugees from Syria and to foster specific knowledge and understanding of substance use. Methods We applied a qualitative study design. Five semi-structured focus group discussions with a total of 19 refugees were conducted in 2019 among the difficult to reach population of Syrian refugees. Audio recordings were translated and transcribed. We used a hybrid approach by integrating inductive and deductive thematic frameworks. Results We identified common themes. Firstly, refugees perceived that substances are widely available and accepted in Germany. Secondly, refugees perceived that rules and norms in Germany differ from rules and norms in the home country and favor availability of substances. Thirdly, substance use is related to the intention to escape the past. Fourthly, substance use is related to living in the present through connecting with others and being part of the community. Finally, mental health professional treatment for substance use is associated with shame. Conclusions Findings support Syrian refugees` perspectives of substance use as a way of both escaping the past and coping with psychosocial difficulties in the present in a socio-ecological understanding. Understanding the explanatory model of Syrian refugees can inform future interventions to prevent substance abuse and design tailored interventions. Further studies with Syrian refugees in more countries are needed to better understand resettled refugees` perspectives on substance use.
  • ‘We need someone to deliver our voices’: reflections from conducting remote qualitative research in Syria

    Yazan Douedari; Mervat Alhaffar; Diane Duclos; Mohamed Al-Twaish; Samer Jabbour; Natasha Howard (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract The need to generate evidence in spaces considered insecure and inhabited by potentially extremely vulnerable individuals (e.g. conflict-affected people who may not have means to move) has led researchers to study conflict-affected settings remotely. Increased attention to remote research approaches from social scientists, due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, is sparking interest on appropriate methods and tools. Drawing on several years’ experience of remotely conducting qualitative research in Syria, we discuss challenges and approaches to conducting more inclusive, participatory, and meaningful research from a distance. The logistics, ethics, and politics of conducting research remotely are symptomatic of broader challenges in relation to the decolonisation of global and humanitarian health research. Key to the success of remote approaches is the quality of the relationships researchers need to be able to develop with study participants without face-to-face interactions and with limited engagement ‘in the field’. Particularly given overdue efforts to decolonise research institutions and methods, lead researchers should have a meaningful connection with the area in which they are conducting research. This is critical both to reduce chances that it will be extractive and exploitative and additionally for the quality of interpretation.
  • Lessons learned from implementation of a national hotline for Ebola virus disease emergency preparedness in South Sudan

    Velma K. Lopez; Sharmila Shetty; Angelo Thon Kouch; Matthew Tut Khol; Richard Lako; Alexandre Bili; Anyang David Ayuen; Agnes Jukudu; Ajak Ater Kug; Atem David Mayen (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background The world’s second largest Ebola outbreak occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2018 to 2020. At the time, risk of cross-border spread into South Sudan was very high. Thus, the South Sudan Ministry of Health scaled up Ebola preparedness activities in August 2018, including implementation of a 24-h, toll-free Ebola virus disease (EVD) hotline. The primary purpose was the hotline was to receive EVD alerts and the secondary goal was to provide evidence-based EVD messages to the public. Methods To assess whether the hotline augmented Ebola preparedness activities in a protracted humanitarian emergency context, we reviewed 22 weeks of call logs from January to June 2019. Counts and percentages were calculated for all available data. Results The hotline received 2114 calls during the analysis period, and an additional 1835 missed calls were documented. Callers used the hotline throughout 24-h of the day and were most often men and individuals living in Jubek state, where the national capital is located. The leading reasons for calling were to learn more about EVD (68%) or to report clinical signs or symptoms (16%). Common EVD-related questions included EVD signs and symptoms, transmission, and prevention. Only one call was documented as an EVD alert, and there was no documentation of reported symptoms or whether the person met the EVD case definition. Conclusions Basic surveillance information was not collected from callers. To trigger effective outbreak investigation from hotline calls, the hotline should capture who is reporting and from where, symptoms and travel history, and whether this information should be further investigated. Electronic data capture will enhance data quality and availability of information for review. Additionally, the magnitude of missed calls presents a major challenge. When calls are answered, there is potential to provide health communication, so risk communication needs should be considered. However, prior to hotline implementation, governments should critically assess whether their hotline would yield actionable data and if other data sources for surveillance or community concerns are available.
  • Working short and working long: can primary healthcare be protected as a public good in Lebanon today?

    Randa Sami Hamadeh; Ola Kdouh; Rawan Hammoud; Enrica Leresche; Jennifer Leaning (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract In this commentary we propose four questions to be addressed while building a meaningful public primary healthcare response in Lebanon today. These questions emerge from two imperatives: the necessity to consider both short- and longer-term struggles in a context of protracted conflict and the need to protect public health as a public good whilst the public Primary Healthcare Network (PHCN) is facing the Covid19 pandemic. In order to identify how these questions are related to the need to be working short and long, we look at the imprints left by past and present shocks. Profound shocks of the past include the Lebanese civil war and the Syrian refugee crisis. We analyse how these shocks have resulted in the PHCN developing resilience mechanisms in order to ensure a space for healthcare provision that stands public in Lebanon today. Then, we consider how two present shocks -- the economic breakdown and the blast of ammonium nitrate in Beirut port -- are affecting and threatening the progress made by the PHCN to ensure that primary healthcare remains a public good, a fragile space acquired with difficulty in the past half century. We identify what questions emerge from the combined consequences of such traumas, when the immediate constraints of the present meet the impediments of the past. We consider what such questions mean more broadly, for the people living in Lebanon today, and for the PHCN ability to respond to the Covid 19 pandemic in a relevant way. Our hypothesis is that in a protracted conflict, such as the one defining the circumstances of Lebanon now, public access to primary healthcare might persist for the people as one safeguard, in which social and moral continuity can be anchored to protect a sense of public good.
  • Healthcare governance during humanitarian responses: a survey of current practice among international humanitarian actors

    Prudence Jarrett; Yasin Fozdar; Nada Abdelmagid; Francesco Checchi (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background Large international humanitarian actors support and directly deliver health services for millions of people in crises annually, and wield considerable power to decide which health services to provide, how and to whom, across a vast spectrum of health areas. Despite decades of reform aiming to improve accountability in the sector, public health practice among humanitarian actors is not heavily scrutinized in either the countries where they are headquartered or those where they provide healthcare. We surveyed current healthcare governance practice among large international humanitarian actors to better understand what organisations are doing to ensure oversight and accountability for health services in humanitarian responses. Methods The term ‘healthcare governance’ was defined and categorised into seven domains: implementation of health management information systems (HMIS) and use of resulting data; professional development of health sector staff; audits of health service performance; management of clinical incidents; evidence-based practice; pharmaceutical supply; and beneficiary engagement. Senior health professionals at 32 leading international actors providing humanitarian health services were contacted between July and August 2019 to complete a 109-question online survey about their organisation’s practice in these domains. Results Respondents from 13 organisations completed the questionnaire. Healthcare governance practices were undertaken to varying degrees by all organisations but were often driven by donor requirements and external factors rather than improvement of programme performance. Common strengths were the inclusion of governance in organisational policies, high availability of technical guidelines, and close monitoring of pharmaceutical services. Recurring weaknesses were poor beneficiary engagement, inconsistent use of health information for decision making, unsystematic implementation of healthcare audits, inconsistent management of clinical incidents, and lack of training and professional development opportunities. Conclusions To our knowledge, this is the first study to describe healthcare governance practice among humanitarian actors. Leading international humanitarian healthcare providers are already implementing many healthcare governance activities; however, these are inconsistently applied and generally not reflective of systematic policies or earmarked organisational resources. There is a need for sector-wide consensus on how the humanitarian sector defines healthcare governance, the domains that constitute it, which actors in the humanitarian system are implicated, and how malpractice should be systematically addressed.
  • Strengthening healthcare providers’ capacity for safe abortion and post-abortion care services in humanitarian settings: lessons learned from the clinical outreach refresher training model (S-CORT) in Uganda, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo

    Nguyen Toan Tran; Alison Greer; Talemoh Dah; Bibiche Malilo; Bergson Kakule; Thérèse Faila Morisho; Douglass Kambale Asifiwe; Happiness Musa; Japheth Simon; Janet Meyers (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background Fragile and crisis-affected countries account for most maternal deaths worldwide, with unsafe abortion being one of its leading causes. This case study aims to describe the Clinical Outreach Refresher Training strategy for sexual and reproductive health (S-CORT) designed to update health providers’ competencies on uterine evacuation using both medications and manual vacuum aspiration. The paper also explores stakeholders’ experiences, recommendations for improvement, and lessons learned. Methods Using mixed methods, we evaluated three training workshops that piloted the uterine evacuation module in 2019 in humanitarian contexts of Uganda, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Results Results from the workshops converged to suggest that the module contributed to increasing participants’ theoretical knowledge and possibly technical and counseling skills. Equally noteworthy were their confidence building and positive attitudinal changes promoting a rights-based, fearless, non-judgmental, and non-discriminatory approach toward clients. Participants valued the hands-on, humanistic, and competency-based training methodology, although most regretted the short training duration and lack of practice on real clients. Recommendations to improve the capacity development continuum of uterine evacuation included recruiting the appropriate health cadres for the training; sharing printed pre-reading materials to all participants; sustaining the availability of medication and supplies to offer services to clients after the training; and helping staff through supportive supervision visits to accelerate skills transfer from training to clinic settings. Conclusions When the lack of skilled human resources is a barrier to lifesaving uterine evacuation services in humanitarian settings, the S-CORT strategy could offer a rapid hands-on refresher training opportunity for service providers needing an update in knowledge and skills. Such a capacity-building approach could be useful in humanitarian and fragile settings as well as in development settings with limited resources as part of an overall effort to strengthen other building blocks of the health system.
  • The socioeconomic burden of antibiotic resistance in conflict-affected settings and refugee hosting countries: a systematic scoping review

    Elsa Kobeissi; Marilyne Menassa; Krystel Moussally; Ernestina Repetto; Ismail Soboh; Marwan Hajjar; Shadi Saleh; Ghassan Abu-Sittah (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is a major global threat. Armed and protracted conflicts act as multipliers of infection and ABR, thus leading to increased healthcare and societal costs. We aimed to understand and describe the socioeconomic burden of ABR in conflict-affected settings and refugee hosting countries by conducting a systematic scoping review. Methods A systematic search of PubMed, Medline (Ovid), Embase, Web of Science, SCOPUS and Open Grey databases was conducted to identify all relevant human studies published between January 1990 and August 2019. An updated search was also conducted in April 2020 using Medline/Ovid. Independent screenings of titles/abstracts followed by full texts were performed using pre-defined criteria. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale was used to assess study quality. Data extraction and analysis were based on the PICOS framework and following the PRISMA-ScR guideline. Results The search yielded 8 studies (7 publications), most of which were single-country, mono-center and retrospective studies. The studies were conducted in Lebanon (n = 3), Iraq (n = 2), Jordan (n = 1), Palestine (n = 1) and Yemen (n = 1). Most of the studies did not have a primary aim to assess the socioeconomic impact of ABR and were small studies with limited statistical power that could not demonstrate significant associations. The included studies lacked sufficient information for the accurate evaluation of the cost incurred by antibiotic resistant infections in conflict-affected countries. Conclusion This review highlights the scarcity of research on the socioeconomic burden of ABR on general populations in conflict-affected settings and on refugees and migrants in host countries, and lists recommendations for consideration in future studies. Further studies are needed to understand the cost of ABR in these settings to develop and implement adaptable policies.
  • Intimate partner violence against women on the Colombia Ecuador border: a mixed-methods analysis of the liminal migrant experience

    Colleen Keating; Sarah Treves-Kagan; Ana Maria Buller (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Background Intimate partner violence (IPV) has serious long-term health and psychological consequences and is highly prevalent in Latin America and among displaced populations. Liminality - the ambiguous in-between state of individuals completing a migratory journey - represents a state of legal, economic, and physical insecurity. Through the framework of liminality, this analysis seeks to understand the unique challenges faced by displaced Colombian women in Ecuador including their experience of IPV. Methods We performed a secondary analysis of 15 in-depth interviews and 319 longitudinal surveys, conducted on the border of Ecuador and Colombia, following a sequential explanatory mixed-methods design. We analysed interviews thematically and mapped the main themes onto complementary quantitative variables. We conducted logistic regression with identified risk and protective factors (measured at time 1) and recent IPV (measured at time 2), controlling for demographic characteristics and IPV at time 1. Results Our mixed-methods analysis revealed four main mechanisms by which displacement influenced the social and economic realities of Colombian women years after crossing the border, compounding their risk of IPV and limiting their ability to escape it. Lack of legal residence and documentation, violence experienced along life course and migratory continuums which increased their risk for later revictimisation, social isolation including loss of support networks and restricted mobility and lastly, financial stress. Conclusions This research highlights the critical importance of supporting the economic and social integration of migrants and refugees in host communities, as well as the need to carefully consider migration-related vulnerabilities in IPV prevention and response interventions. As the regional refugee crisis grows, policy makers must consider how the long-term marginalisation of refugee women contributes to their victimisation. This research also supports the idea of incorporating gender synchronised, transformative IPV prevention and response programmes into migration-related and poverty alleviation international development efforts.
  • Sexual and reproductive health self-care in humanitarian and fragile settings: where should we start?

    Nguyen Toan Tran; Hannah Tappis; Pierre Moon; Megan Christofield; Angela Dawson (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Recent crises have accelerated global interest in self-care interventions. This debate paper aims to raise the issue of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) self-care and invites members of the global community operating in crisis-affected settings to look at potential avenues in mainstreaming SRH self-care interventions. We start by exploring self-care interventions that could align with well-established humanitarian standards, such as the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Crises, point to the potential of digital health support for SRH self-care in crisis-affected settings, and discuss related policy, programmatic, and research considerations. These considerations underscore the importance of self-care as part of the care continuum and within a whole-system approach. Equally critical is the need for self-care in crisis-affected settings to complement other live-saving SRH interventions—it does not eliminate the need for provider-led services in health facilities. Further research on SRH self-care interventions focusing distinctively on humanitarian and fragile settings is needed to inform context-specific policies and practice guidance.
  • Humanitarian led community-based surveillance: case study in Ekondo-titi, Cameroon

    Alain Metuge; Lundi-Anne Omam; Elizabeth Jarman; Esther Omam Njomo (BMC, 2021-03-01)
    Abstract Background Community-based surveillance (CBS) has been used successfully in many situations to strengthen existing health systems as well as in humanitarian crises. The Anglophone crisis of Northwest Southwest Cameroon, led to burning of villages, targeting of health personnel and destruction of health facilities which, in combination with distrust for the government services led to a collapse of surveillance for outbreak prone diseases. Methods We evaluated the ability of the CBS system to identify suspected cases of outbreak prone diseases (OPD) as compared to the facility-based surveillance, evaluated the timeliness of the CBS system in identifying an OPD, reporting of OPD to District Health Service (DHS) and timeliness in outbreak response. The paper also assessed the collaboration with the DHS and contribution of the CBS system with regards to strengthening the overall surveillance of the health district and also determine the interventions undertaken to contain suspected/confirmed outbreaks. Results In total 9 alerts of suspected OPDs were generated by the CBS system as compared to 0 by the DHS, with 8 investigated, 5 responses and 3 confirmed outbreaks. Average time from first symptoms to alert generation by the CBS system was 7.3 days. Average time lag from alert generation from the CBS to the DHS was 0.3 days which was essentially within 24 h. There was extensive and synergistic collaboration with the DHS. Discussion CBS generated a higher number of alerts than traditional outbreak reported used in the region, and had timely investigations and if appropriate, responses. Careful selection of CHWs with strong community engagement led to the success of the project, and the use of the mobile health team in situ allowed for rapid responses to potential outbreaks, as well as for feedback to CHWs and communities. CBS was also well utilized for identification of other events, such as displacement and malnutrition. Conclusion In conflict settings, CBS can help in outbreak identification as well as other events, and a mobile health team is crucial to the success of the CBS due to the ability to rapidly response to generated alerts. The mobile health team provided timely investigation of 8 of 9 alerts generated. Collaboration with existing DHS structures is important for systems strengthening in such settings.
  • Setting research priorities for sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in humanitarian settings

    Loulou Kobeissi; Mahalakshmi Nair; Egmond Samir Evers; Mansuk Daniel Han; Samira Aboubaker; Lale Say; Nigel Rollins; Gary L. Darmstadt; Karl Blanchet; Daniel Martinez Garcia (BMC, 2021-03-01)
    Abstract Background An estimated 70.8 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, 75% of whom are women and children. Prioritizing a global research agenda to inform guidance, service delivery, access to and quality of services is essential to improve the survival and health of women, children and adolescents in humanitarian settings. Method A mixed-methods design was adapted from the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) methodology to solicit priority research questions across the sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (SRMNCAH) domains in humanitarian settings. The first step (CHNRI) involved data collection and scoring of perceived priority questions, using a web-based survey over two rounds (first, to generate the questions and secondly, to score them). Over 1000 stakeholders from across the globe were approached; 177 took part in the first survey and 69 took part in the second. These research questions were prioritized by generating a research prioritization score (RPP) across four dimensions: answerability, program feasibility, public health relevance and equity. A Delphi process of 29 experts followed, where the 50 scored and prioritized CHRNI research questions were shortlisted. The top five questions from the CHNRI scored list for each SRMNCAH domain were voted on, rendering a final list per domain. Results A total of 280 questions were generated. Generated questions covered sexual and reproductive health (SRH) (n = 90, 32.1%), maternal health (n = 75, 26.8%), newborn health (n = 42, 15.0%), child health (n = 43, 15.4%), and non-SRH aspects of adolescent health (n = 31, 11.1%). A shortlist of the top ten prioritized questions for each domain were generated on the basis of the computed RPPs. During the Delphi process, the prioritized questions, based on the CHNRI process, were further refined. Five questions from the shortlist of each of the SRMNCAH domain were formulated, resulting in 25 priority questions across SRMNCAH. For example, one of the prioritized SRH shortlisted and prioritized research question included: “What are effective strategies to implement good quality comprehensive contraceptive services (long-acting, short-acting and EC) for women and girls in humanitarian settings?” Conclusion Data needs, effective intervention strategies and approaches, as well as greater efficiency and quality during delivery of care in humanitarian settings were prioritized. The findings from this research provide guidance for researchers, program implementers, as well as donor agencies on SRMNCAH research priorities in humanitarian settings. A global research agenda could save the lives of those who are at greatest risk and vulnerability as well as increase opportunities for translation and innovation for SRMNCAH in humanitarian settings.
  • Complex emergencies and the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases in Africa: developing a practical approach for implementing safe and effective mapping and intervention strategies

    Louise A. Kelly-Hope; Angelia M. Sanders; Emma Harding-Esch; Johan Willems; Fatima Ahmed; Fiona Vincer; Rebecca Hill (BMC, 2021-03-01)
    Abstract Background Complex emergencies resulting from conflict and political instability are a major challenge for national neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) control and elimination programmes, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, there are no formal guidelines for national programmes to use and plan activities in these humanitarian situations, therefore the aim of this study was to develop a new methodological approach for making decisions about the implementation of safe and effective mapping and mass drug administration (MDA) intervention strategies. Methods The study focussed on the 47 World Health Organization’s African Region (AFR) countries. NTD data were based on five diseases controlled by preventive chemotherapy (PC; i.e. lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil transmitted helminths, trachoma), obtained from the WHO data portals and The Global Trachoma Atlas for 2018. Data on complex emergencies were obtained from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project for 2018–2019. NTD and conflict data were summarised and mapped. A decision tree was developed using NTD mapping, endemicity, MDA and implementing partners data, together with conflict status information at district level. South Sudan was used as a case study, given its current nexus of high NTD prevalence, incidences of conflict, and the presence of a national NTD programme and supporting partners. Results For the five NTDs, between 26 and 41 countries required PC, 69.2–212.7 million people were treated with coverage between 54.8–71.4%. In total 15,273 conflict events were reported including high rates of violence against civilians (29.4%), protests (28.8%), and battles (18.1%). The decision tree process included four main steps including i) information gathering ii) determine a disease mapping strategy iii) determine an MDA implementation strategy and iv) create a disease and conflict database. Based on these steps, risk maps were created. The South Sudan case study on onchocerciasis found the majority of the districts requiring mapping or MDA had a conflict event, and required specialised methods adapted to context and risk, with support from implementation partners in selected areas. Conclusions The paper presents a new methodological approach for implementing safe and effective mapping and intervention strategies in NTD endemic countries with ongoing complex emergencies, which will help to address challenges and make progress toward the NTD Roadmap targets of 2030.
  • Mental health and psychosocial support in conflict: children’s protection concerns and intervention outcomes in Syria

    Nada Raslan; Arran Hamlet; Veena Kumari (BMC, 2021-04-01)
    Abstract Child protection and mental health during conflict intersects with a variety of adverse conflict-related factors, and intervention outcomes in the field are often difficult to predict. Using the casefiles of 376 school children registered in a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) project in the Northwest governorate of Idleb in Syria, this study aimed to determine (i) the rates of various protection concerns (potential mental health conditions, psychosocial deprivation issues, and social, behavioural and emotional issues) for students enrolled in this project, (ii) whether the rates of any of the protection concerns varied between children and adolescents, or between boys and girls, and (iii) which of the identified demographic and protection sector factors predicted the presence of potential mental health conditions and MHPSS intervention outcomes. MHPSS interventions (including individual MHPSS sessions tailored for children in conflict, resilience building activities, tutoring, peer building activities, community awareness, and other tailored services) were implemented at schools operated by the UK-based organization, Syria Relief. The variables tested included demographic variables of age group (208 children, aged 4–9 years; 168 adolescents, aged 10–14 years) and gender (211 males, 165 females), and 23 protection sector variables including 11 potential mental health problems (anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, autism, epilepsy, motor tics, depression, post-traumatic-stress disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, learning disability), 7 psychosocial deprivation (PSD) variables (war injury, child labour, loss of caregiver, neglect, domestic abuse, displacement, poverty), and 5 social, behavioural and emotional (SBE) variables (low/abnormal socialization, emotional issue, peer issues/being bullied, peer issues/being aggressive, educational decline). Within the sample, 73.7% were found with a probable mental health problem, with 30.6% showing signs of anxiety, 36.2% of depression and 26.6% showing signs of post-traumatic-stress disorder. Additionally, 74.5% of the sample had at least one form of PSD present (42.6% were displaced, 39.6% suffered from abject poverty), and 64.9% had a reported SBE concern. Children were more likely to have a potential mental health concern, especially autism and PTSD, and poor socialization; while adolescents were more likely to engage in child labour, experience abject poverty, exhibit aggressive behaviour, and educational decline. Male gender was associated with child labour and aggressive behaviour while female gender was associated with the presence of potential mental health problems, especially depression, and loss of caregiver, and poor socialisation. Odds ratios (ORs) indicated significant negative impact of the presence of SBE concerns (any), 4.45 (95% CI: 1.68–12.7), emotional issue, 11.02 (95% CI: 2.76–74.49), low/abnormal socialization, 8.37 (95% CI, 2–57.71), and displacement, 2.91 (95% CI, 1.21–7.48) on the child’s mental health. MHPSS intervention outcomes were categorized as case improvement, decline, or incomplete/limited information available; with case improvement noted for 63.6% of the sample, decline noted for 14.4%, and incomplete treatment/limited follow-up noted for 22.1% of the sample. Additional analysis of predictors of treatment success found that child labour was significantly associated with a lack of treatment success, OR 0.24 (95% CI, 0.07–0.92). These findings provide important insights into the complex tailoring needs that protection and MHPSS field projects require.
  • Vulnerability of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to COVID-19: quantitative insights

    Fouad M. Fouad; Stephen J. McCall; Houssein Ayoub; Laith J. Abu-Raddad; Ghina R. Mumtaz (BMC, 2021-03-01)
    Abstract Lebanon, a middle-income country with ongoing political turmoil, unstable economic situation, and a fragmented and under-resourced health system, hosts about one million Syrian refugees since 2011. While the country is currently experiencing substantial COVID-19 epidemic spread, no outbreaks have been reported yet among Syrian refugees. However, testing of this population remains limited and exposure levels are high given dire living conditions and close interaction with the host community. Here, we use quantitative insights of transmission dynamics to outline risk and contextual factors that may modulate vulnerability of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to potentially large COVID-19 epidemics. Syrian refugees live in close contact with the host community, and their living conditions are favorable for epidemic spread. We found that the high levels of crowding within Syrian refugee households and among those in informal tented settlements, the inadequate water supply and sanitation, limited use of masks, inadequate access to health care, and inadequate community awareness levels are vulnerability factors that directly impact important parameters of transmission dynamics, leading to larger epidemic scale. Poverty, stigma, and fear of legal consequences are contextual factors that further exacerbate this vulnerability. The relatively high prevalence of non-communicable diseases in this population could also affect the severity of the disease among those infected. Mathematical modeling simulations we conducted illustrated that even modest increases in transmission among Syrian refugees could result in a large increase in the incidence and cumulative total number of infections in the absence of interventions. In conclusion, while the young age structure of the Syrian refugee population might play a protective role against the scale and disease-burden severity of a potential COVID-19 epidemic, the epidemic potential due to several vulnerability factors warrants an immediate response in this population group. Local and international actors are required to mobilize and coordinate efforts to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, and to mitigate its impact amongst the vulnerable refugee populations globally.
  • Operational considerations for the management of non-communicable diseases in humanitarian emergencies

    F. Jacquerioz Bausch; D. Beran; H. Hering; P. Boulle; F. Chappuis; C. Dromer; P. Saaristo; S. Aebischer Perone (BMC, 2021-02-01)
    Abstract Non-communicable diseases (NCD) represent an increasing global challenge with the majority of mortality occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Concurrently, many humanitarian crises occur in these countries and the number of displaced persons, either refugees or internally displaced, has reached the highest level in history. Until recently NCDs in humanitarian contexts were a neglected issue, but this is changing. Humanitarian actors are now increasingly integrating NCD care in their activities and recognizing the need to harmonize and enhance NCD management in humanitarian crises. However, there is a lack of a standardized response during operations as well as a lack of evidence-based NCD management guidelines in humanitarian settings. An informal working group on NCDs in humanitarian settings, formed by members of the World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and others, and led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, teamed up with the University of Geneva and Geneva University Hospitals to develop operational considerations for NCDs in humanitarian settings. This paper presents these considerations, aiming at ensuring appropriate planning, management and care for NCD-affected persons during the different stages of humanitarian emergencies. Key components include access to treatment, continuity of care including referral pathways, therapeutic patient education/patient self-management, community engagement and health promotion. In order to implement these components, a standardized approach will support a consistent response, and should be based on an ethical foundation to ensure that the “do no harm” principle is upheld. Advocacy supported by evidence is important to generate visibility and resource allocation for NCDs. Only a collaborative approach of all actors involved in NCD management will allow the spectrum of needs and continuum of care for persons affected by NCDs to be properly addressed in humanitarian programmes.
  • Reproductive health at conflict borders: a cross-sectional survey of human rights violations and perinatal outcomes at the Thai-Myanmar border

    Stephanie M. Koning; Kaylee Scott; James H. Conway; Mari Palta (BMC, 2021-03-01)
    Abstract Background Human rights violations (HRVs) are common in conflict and displacement contexts. Women are especially vulnerable to HRVs in these contexts, and perinatal health is acutely sensitive to related stressors and health care barriers. However, how HRVs affect immediate and long-term perinatal health in chronic displacement settings has not been closely investigated. Furthermore, it remains unclear whether and how HRVs in these contexts are tied directly to displacement circumstances or other marginalizing factors affecting local migrant and minority populations generally. Methods We investigated these questions using novel survey data from 577 women at the northern Thai-Myanmar border, where thousands of people have fled conflict in Shan State, Myanmar, for refuge in a range of precarious settings in Thailand, including unofficial refugee camps, villages, and worksites. We compared HRV exposures by ethnicity, country of birth, legal documentation, and residential setting. We then analyzed perinatal outcomes associated with HRV frequency, timing, and type. Results Birth in Myanmar, and ethnic minority and precarious legal status more broadly, predicted higher HRV prevalence. HRV frequency significantly predicted unmet antenatal care and lower birth weight, along with HRVs related to labor exploitation and violence or conflict. HRVs timed closer to pregnancies were more adversely associated with perinatal outcomes. Resource/property deprivation was the strongest predictor of pregnancy complications. Conclusions Human rights must be urgently attended to, through expanded HRV screenings and responsive care, and policy changes to further protect migrant workers, displaced persons, and others in precarious legal status situations.
  • Innovative strategies for providing menstruation-supportive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities: learning from refugee camps in Cox’s bazar, Bangladesh

    Margaret L. Schmitt; Olivia R. Wood; David Clatworthy; Sabina Faiz Rashid; Marni Sommer (BMC, 2021-02-01)
    Abstract Background There is growing attention to addressing the menstrual hygiene management (MHM) needs of the over 21 million displaced adolescent girls and women globally. Current approaches to MHM-related humanitarian programming often prioritize the provision of menstrual materials and information. However, a critical component of an MHM response includes the construction and maintenance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, including more female-friendly toilets. This enables spaces for menstruating girls and women to change, dispose, wash and dry menstrual materials; all of which are integral tasks required for MHM. A global assessment identified a number of innovations focused on designing and implementing menstruation-supportive WASH facilities in the Rohingya refugee camps located in Cox’s Bazar (CXB), Bangladesh. These pilot efforts strove to include the use of more participatory methodologies in the process of developing the new MHM-supportive WASH approaches. This study aimed to capture new approaches and practical insights on innovating menstrual disposal, waste management and laundering in emergency contexts through the conduct of a qualitative assessment in CXB. Methods The qualitative assessment was conducted in the Rohingya refugee camps in CXB in September of 2019 to capture new approaches and practical insights on innovating for menstrual disposal, waste management and laundering. This included Key Informant Interviews with 19 humanitarian response staff from the WASH and Protection sectors of a range of non-governmental organizations and UN agencies; Focus Group Discussions with 47 Rohingya adolescent girls and women; and direct observations of 8 WASH facilities (toilets, bathing, and laundering spaces). Results Key findings included: one, the identification of new female-driven consultation methods aimed at improving female beneficiary involvement and buy-in during the design and construction phases; two, the design of new multi-purpose WASH facilities to increase female beneficiary usage; three, new menstrual waste disposal innovations being piloted in communal and institutional settings, with female users indicating at least initial acceptability; and four, novel strategies for engaging male beneficiaries in the design of female WASH facilities, including promoting dialogue to generate buy-in regarding the importance of these facilities and debate about their placement. Conclusions Although the identified innovative participatory methodologies and design approaches are promising, the long term viability of the facilities, including plans to expand them, may be dependent on the continued engagement of girls and women, and the availability of resources.

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