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


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

Recent Submissions

  • Area level indirect exposure to extended conflicts and early childhood anthropometric outcomes in India: a repeat cross-sectional analysis

    Pritha Chatterjee; Jarvis Chen; Aisha Yousafzai; Ichiro Kawachi; S. V. Subramanian (BMC, 2023-05-01)
    Abstract Background Protracted, internal conflicts with geographic variations within countries, are an important understudied community exposure for adverse child health outcomes. Methods Violent events from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) between January 2016–December 2020 and January 2010–December 2015, were included as exposure events for children sampled in National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) 5 (2019–21) and NFHS 4 (2015–16), respectively. Geocoded data from UCDP were merged with residential clusters from NFHS, to identify children living in villages or urban blocks situated at <= 50 km from conflict sites. Within these clusters, which we defined as conflict exposed, we studied risks of stunting, underweight and wasting in children, prenatally, and in 0–3 years. We assessed sensitivity on a subsample of siblings with discordant conflict exposures. Results For NFHS 5, exposure to violence between 0 and 3 years was associated with 1.16 times (95% CI 1.11–1.20) higher risks of stunting, 1.08 (1.04, 1.12) times higher risks of underweight, and no change in wasting. In-utero violence exposure was associated with 1.11 times (95% CI 1.04–1.17) higher risks of stunting, 1.08 (95% CI 1.02–1.14) times higher risks of underweight, and no change in wasting, among children <= 2 years. In 17,760 siblings of 8333 mothers, exposure to violence during 0–3 years, was associated with a 1.19 times higher risk of stunting (95% CI − 0.24 to 0.084). Incremental quartiles of violence exposure had higher risks of stunting and underweight until quartile 3. Conclusion In-utero and early childhood indirect exposure to protracted conflicts were associated with increased stunting and underweight in India. Given the continued exposures of such historically and contextually rooted internal conflicts in many LMICs, chronic violence exposures should be targeted in public health policies as important social and political determinant of child health.
  • The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in humanitarian settings: epidemiology, health service utilization, and health care seeking behavior in Bangui and surrounding areas, Central African Republic

    Chiara Altare; Natalya Kostandova; Gbètoho Fortuné Gankpe; Patricia Nalimo; Abdoul Azizi Almoustapha Abaradine; IMPACT CAR Team; Sophie Bruneau; Caroline Antoine; Paul B. Spiegel (BMC, 2023-05-01)
    Abstract Background Despite increasing evidence on COVID-19, few studies have been conducted in humanitarian settings and none have investigated the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic in the Central African Republic. We studied the COVID-19 epidemiology, health service utilization, and health care seeking behavior in the first year of the pandemic in Bangui and surrounding areas. Methods This mixed-methods study encompasses four components: descriptive epidemiological analysis of reported COVID-19 cases data; interrupted time series analysis of health service utilization using routine health service data; qualitative analysis of health care workers’ perceptions of how health services were affected; and health care seeking behavior of community members with a household survey and focus group discussions. Results The COVID-19 epidemiology in CAR aligns with that of most other countries with males representing most of the tested people and positive cases. Testing capacity was mainly concentrated in Bangui and skewed towards symptomatic cases, travelers, and certain professions. Test positivity was high, and many cases went undiagnosed. Decreases in outpatient department consultations, consultations for respiratory tract infections, and antenatal care were found in most study districts. Cumulative differences in districts ranged from − 46,000 outpatient department consultations in Begoua to + 7000 in Bangui 3; − 9337 respiratory tract infections consultations in Begoua to + 301 in Bangui 1; and from − 2895 antenatal care consultations in Bimbo to + 702 in Bangui 2. Consultations for suspected malaria showed mixed results while delivery of BCG vaccine doses increased. Fewer community members reported seeking care at the beginning of the pandemic compared to summer 2021, especially in urban areas. The fear of testing positive and complying with related restrictions were the main obstacles to seeking care. Conclusions A large underestimation of infections and decreased health care utilization characterized the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangui and surrounding area. Improved decentralized testing capacity and enhanced efforts to maintain health service utilization will be crucial for future epidemics. A better understanding of health care access is needed, which will require strengthening the national health information system to ensure reliable and complete data. Further research on how public health measures interact with security constraints is needed.
  • Armed conflict and household food insecurity: evidence from war-torn Tigray, Ethiopia

    Aregawi Weldegebreal Weldegiargis; Haftom Temesgen Abebe; Hiluf Ebuy Abraha; Meron Micheale Abrha; Tsegay Berihu Tesfay; Rieye Esayas Belay; Alemnesh Abraha Araya; Mengish Bahresilassie Gebregziabher; Hagos Godefay; Afework Mulugeta (BMC, 2023-05-01)
    Abstract Background Exposure to armed conflicts result in strongly adverse and often irreversible short- and long-term effects which may transmit across generations. Armed conflicts directly cause food insecurity and starvation by disruption and destruction of food systems, reduce farming populations, destroying infrastructure, reducing resilience, and increasing vulnerabilities, disruptions in access to market, increasing food price or making goods and services unavailable altogether. The objective of the present study was to determine the status of household food insecurity in the armed conflict affected communities of Tigray in terms of Access, Experience and Hunger scale. Method Community-based cross-sectional study was conducted to assess impact of armed conflict on household food insecurity among households with children with under one year. FHI 360 and FAO guidelines were used to quantify household food insecurity and Household hunger status. Results Three-fourth of the households had anxiety about food supply and eat undesired monotonous diet due to lack of resources. Households were obliged to eat few kinds of foods, eat smaller meals, eat foods they do not want to eat, or went a whole day without eating any food. Household food insecurity access, food insecurity experience, and hunger scales significantly increased by 43.3 (95% CI: 41.9–44.7), 41.9 (95% CI: 40.5–43.3) and 32.5 (95% CI: 31.0-33.9) percentage points from the prewar period. Conclusions Household food insecurity levels and household hunger status of the study communities was unacceptably high. The armed conflict has significant negative effect on food security in Tigray. It is recommended that the study communities need to be protected from the immediate and long-term consequences of conflict-induced household food insecurity.
  • Cross-sectional survey in Central African Republic finds mortality 4-times higher than UN statistics: how can we not know the Central African Republic is in such an acute humanitarian crisis?

    Karume Baderha Augustin Gang; Jennifer O’Keeffe; Anonymous; Les Roberts (BMC, 2023-04-01)
    Abstract Background CAR is one of the poorest countries in the world. While UN statistics suggest that there is no health emergency in the country, two recently published mortality surveys contradict this. Moreover, recent accusations of massive scale human rights abuses by mercenaries suggested the need for a nationwide mortality survey. Methods Two stage cluster surveys were conducted in two different strata: one in the roughly half of the country within the Government’s control, and one in the areas mostly outside of the Government’s control. We randomly selected 40 clusters of 10 households in each stratum. The survey included questions on vital events with open-ended questions about health and household challenges at the beginning and end of each interview. Results 70 of 80 selected clusters were successfully visited. We interviewed 699 households, containing 5070 people. 11 households (1.6%) refused to be interviewed and approximately 18.3% of households were absent at the time of visitation, mainly in the safer Government controlled areas. Interviewed households had a birth rate of 42.6 /1000 / year (95%CI 35.4–59.7) and a crude mortality rate (CMR) of 1.57 /10,000/day (95%CI: 1.36–1.78). The birth rate was lower and the death rate markedly higher in the strata outside of Government control. Families described malaria or fever, and diarrhea as the primary reported causes of death with violence accounting for 6% of all deaths. Conclusions CAR is experiencing a severe health emergency, with the highest measured nationwide mortality in the world to our knowledge. UN published death rate estimates appear to be less than one fourth of reality. There is a desperate need for food aid in the form of general distributions in CAR, along with the accompanying work programs, seed and tool distributions needed to restart local economies. This is of particular importance in rural areas outside of the Government control. While some humanitarian actors are doing their best to respond, the crisis level mortality rate suggests that the needs in CAR are being largely unmet.
  • Organizational peer support to enable rehabilitating surgical services in Northern Ethiopia

    Meskerem Aleka Kebede; Andualem Beyene; Nurhusen Kedir; Bethelhem Abegaz; Rocco Friebel (BMC, 2023-04-01)
    Abstract The ongoing violent conflict in Northern Ethiopia has caused displacement, death, and destruction. Health services infrastructure became one of the primary victims of the war, leaving millions unable to access essential surgical health services at a time when demand for surgical interventions is on the rise. Rehabilitating surgical services was identified as a priority by the federal government, regional health bureaus, and humanitarian organizations, forming an integral part in rebuilding communities after war. Under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, a hospital twinning program between providers in non-conflict and conflict affected areas was first introduced in December 2021, now including 13 active partnerships. The program builds on a previous best practice gained from the Ethiopian Hospital Alliance for Quality to strengthen local health care providers in regaining capabilities to serve local populations. Field experience of two hospital twinning projects have shown significant scope of organizational peer support at times of crisis, successfully enabling conflict-afflicted hospitals to regain the capacity necessary to re-introduce surgical services. While overcoming challenges such as lack of basic supplies including electricity and blood may be required to further increase the scope of this program in Northern Ethiopia, relative success highlights important lessons for similar approaches in areas affected by conflict, or natural disasters.
  • Localisation of digital health tools used by displaced populations in low and middle-income settings: a scoping review and critical analysis of the Participation Revolution

    Jennifer Benson; Tilman Brand; Lara Christianson; Meret Lakeberg (BMC, 2023-04-01)
    Abstract Background Forced displacement is a crucial determinant of poor health. With 31 people displaced every minute worldwide, this is an important global issue. Addressing this, the Participation Revolution workstream from the World Humanitarian Summit’s Localisation commitments has gained traction in attempting to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian aid. Simultaneously, digital health initiatives have become increasingly ubiquitous tools in crises to deliver humanitarian assistance and address health burdens. Objective This scoping review explores how the localisation agenda’s commitment to participation has been adopted within digital health interventions used by displaced people in low-and-middle-income countries. Methods This review adopted the Arksey and O’Malley approach and searched five academic databases and three online literature repositories with a Population, Concept and Context inclusion criteria. Data were synthesised and analysed through a critical power lens from the perspective of displaced people in low-and-middle-income-countries. Results 27 papers demonstrated that a heterogeneous group of health issues were addressed through various digital health initiatives, principally through the use of mobile phones. The focus of the literature lay largely within technical connectivity and feasibility assessments, leaving a gap in understanding potential health implications. The varied conceptualisation of the localisation phenomenon has implications for the future of participatory humanitarian action: Authorship of reviewed literature primarily descended from high-income countries exposing global power dynamics leading the narrative. However, power was not a central theme in the literature: Whilst authors acknowledged the benefit of local involvement, participatory activities were largely limited to informing content adaptations and functional modifications within pre-determined projects and objectives. Conclusion With over 100 million people displaced globally, effective initiatives that meaningfully address health needs without perpetuating harmful inequalities are an essential contribution to the humanitarian arena. The gap in health outcomes evidence, the limited constructions of health, and the varying and nuanced digital divide factors are all indicators of unequal power in the digital health sphere. More needs to be done to address these gaps meaningfully, and more meaningful participation could be a crucial undertaking to achieve this. Registration The study protocol was registered before the study (10.17605/OSF.IO/9D25R) at .
  • Psychosocial model of burnout among humanitarian aid workers in Bangladesh: role of workplace stressors and emotion coping

    Cheryl Yunn Shee Foo; Alvin Kuowei Tay; Yexinyu Yang; Helen Verdeli (BMC, 2023-04-01)
    Abstract Background While trauma exposure is an established predictor of poor mental health among humanitarian aid workers (HAWs), less is known about the role of psychosocial work-related factors. This study aims to establish a psychosocial model for burnout and psychological distress in HAWs that tests and compares the effects of adversity exposure and workplace stressors in combination, and explores the potential mediating role of individual coping styles. Methods Path analysis and model comparison using cross-sectional online survey data were collected from full-time international and local HAWs in Bangladesh between December 2020 and February 2021. HAWs self-reported on exposure to adversities, workplace psychosocial stressors (Third Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire), coping styles (Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations), burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory—Human Services Survey), and psychological distress (Kessler-6). Results Among N = 111 HAWs, 30.6%, 16.4%, 12.7%, and 8.2% screened positive for moderate psychological distress (8 ≤ Kessler-6 ≤ 12), emotional exhaustion (EE ≥ 27), depersonalization (DP ≥ 13), and severe psychological distress (K-6 ≥ 13), respectively. 28.8% reported a history of mental disorder. The preferred model showed distinct pathways from adversity exposure and workplace stressors to burnout, with negative emotion-focused coping and psychological distress as significant intervening variables. While greater exposure to both types of stressors were associated with higher levels of burnout and distress, workplace stressors had a stronger association with psychological outcomes than adversity exposure did (β = .52, p ≤ .001 vs. β = .20, p = .032). Workplace stressors, but not adversities, directly influenced psychological distress (β = .45, p ≤ .001 vs. β = −.01, p = .927). Demographic variables, task-focused and avoidance-focused coping were not significantly associated with psychological outcomes. Conclusions Compared to exposure to adversities, workplace stressors primarily influenced occupational stress syndromes. Reducing workplace stressors and enhancing adaptive coping may improve psychological outcomes in humanitarian staff.
  • The impact of social capital and social environmental factors on mental health and flourishing: the experiences of asylum-seekers in France

    Maria De Jesus; Bronwyn Warnock; Zoubida Moumni; Zara Hassan Sougui; Lionel Pourtau (BMC, 2023-04-01)
    Abstract Background There is growing interest on how social capital and related social environmental factors impact overall population health and well-being. The nature of asylum-seekers’ social environment alters once they migrate to a new context and these changes influence their mental health and well-being. However, there is limited scholarship on how these social environmental factors impact the mental health, well-being, and capacity to flourish of asylum-seekers. Methods The aim of the study, therefore, was to examine how specific social environmental factors—social networks, social support, and social cohesion at various levels (micro, meso, and macro)—influence the mental health, well-being, and capacity to flourish of asylum-seekers in France. In collaboration with a community-based organization, we used a qualitative research design to conduct 120 semi-structured interviews with asylum-seekers in France. Results The emerging salient themes depicted how the asylum-seekers’ usual informal social networks comprised of family and friends had been disrupted since they migrated to France, which impacted their mental health and well-being. Conversely, staying connected with their informal transnational social networks via social media and developing ties with new local informal and formal social networks allowed them to receive different forms of social support, and buffered some of the negative mental health consequences. However, the lack of social cohesion due to a lack of belonging, marginalization, and current harmful migration-related policies impeded asylum-seekers’ capacity to flourish. Conclusion While social support derived from social networks buffered some negative impacts on mental health and well-being, the overall lack of social cohesion ultimately impeded asylum-seekers’ capacity to flourish within their host communities, which was further exacerbated by harmful migration policies of exclusion within France. Introducing more inclusive policies related to the governance of migration and an intersectoral approach that views health in all policies is key to promoting social cohesion and flourishing among asylum-seekers in France.
  • Inferring the impact of humanitarian responses on population mortality: methodological problems and proposals

    Francesco Checchi (BMC, 2023-03-01)
    Abstract Reducing excess population mortality caused by crises due to armed conflict and natural disasters is an existential aim of humanitarian assistance, but the extent to which these deaths are averted in different humanitarian responses is mostly unknown. This information gap arguably weakens governance and accountability. This paper considers methodological challenges involved in making inferences about humanitarian assistance’s effect on excess mortality, and outlines proposed approaches. Three possible measurement questions, each of which contributes some inferential evidence, are presented: (1) whether mortality has remained within an acceptable range during the crisis (for which different direct estimation options are presented); (2) whether the humanitarian response is sufficiently appropriate and performant to avert excess mortality (a type of contribution analysis requiring in-depth audits of the design of humanitarian services and of their actual availability, coverage and quality); and (3) the actual extent to which humanitarian assistance has reduced excess deaths (potentially the most complex question to answer, requiring application of causal thinking and careful specification of the exposure, and for which either quasi-experimental statistical modelling approaches or a combination of verbal and social autopsy methods are proposed). The paper concludes by considering possible ‘packages’ of the above methods that could be implemented at different stages of a humanitarian response, and calls for investment in improved methods and actual measurement.
  • Provider-initiated HIV testing uptake and socio-economic status among women in a conflict zone in the Central African Republic: a mixed-methods cross-sectional study

    Mari Nythun Utheim; Petros Isaakidis; Rafael Van Den Bergh; Bantas Bata Ghislain Géraud; Rodrigue Biguioh Mabvouna; Tone Kristin Omsland; Espen Heen; Cecilie Dahl (BMC, 2023-03-01)
    Abstract Introduction In the Central African Republic (CAR), HIV/AIDS is the main cause of death in women aged 15–49 years. Increased testing coverage is essential in prevention of HIV/AIDS, especially in areas where conflict hinders access to health care. Socio-economic status (SES) has been shown to be associated with HIV testing uptake. We investigated whether “Provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling” (PITC) could be implemented in a family planning clinic in an active conflict zone in the Central African Republic to reach women of reproductive age and assessed whether socioeconomic status was associated with testing uptake. Methods Women aged 15–49 years were recruited from a free family planning clinic run by Médecins Sans Frontières in the capital Bangui. An asset-based measurement tool was created based on analysis of qualitative in-depth interviews. Measures of socioeconomic status were constructed from the tool, also by using factor analysis. Logistic regression was used to quantify the association between SES and HIV testing uptake (yes/no), while controlling for potential confounders: age, marital status, number of children, education level and head of household. Results A total of 1419 women were recruited during the study period, where 87.7% consented to HIV testing, and 95.5% consented to contraception use. A total of 11.9% had never been tested for HIV previously. Factors negatively associated with HIV testing uptake were: being married (OR = 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.5); living in a household headed by the husband as opposed to by another person (OR = 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.6), and lower age (OR = 0.96, 95% CI 0.93–0.99). Higher level of education (OR = 1.0, 95% CI 0.97–1.1) and having more children aged under 15 (OR = 0.92, 95% CI 0.81–1.1) was not associated with testing uptake. In multivariable regression, testing uptake was lower in the higher SES groups, but the differences were not significant (OR = 0.80, 95% CI 0.55–1.18). Conclusions The findings show that PITC can be successfully implemented in the patient flow in a family planning clinic, without compromising contraception uptake. Within the PITC framework in a conflict setting, socioeconomic status was not found to be associated with testing uptake in women of reproductive age.
  • Childhood exposure to armed conflict and nutritional health outcomes in Nigeria

    Olusesan Ayodeji Makinde; Emmanuel Olamijuwon; Ifeanyi Mgbachi; Ryoko Sato (BMC, 2023-03-01)
    Abstract Background Armed conflicts are associated with an increased risk of food insecurity, the leading cause of malnutrition in low-and-middle-income countries. Multiple studies have uncovered significant influences of childhood malnutrition on children’s overall health and development. As a result, it is increasingly important to understand how childhood experience of armed conflict intersects with childhood malnutrition in conflict-prone countries like Nigeria. This study examined the association between different measures of childhood experiences of armed conflicts and the nutritional health outcomes of children aged 36–59 months. Methods We used data from the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey linked with Uppsala Conflict Data Program Geo-Referenced Events Dataset using geographic identifiers. Multilevel regression models were fitted on a sample of 4226 children aged 36–59 months. Results The prevalence of stunting, underweight and wasting was 35%, 20% and 3%, respectively. Armed conflicts were mostly recorded in the North-eastern states of Borno (222 episodes) and Adamawa (24 episodes). Exposure to armed conflicts ranged from 0 (no experience of armed conflict) to 3.75 conflicts per month since the child’s birth. An increase in the frequency of armed conflicts is associated with increased odds of childhood stunting [AOR = 2.52, 95%CI: 1.96–3.25] and underweight [AOR = 2.33, 95%CI: 1.19–4.59] but not wasting. The intensity of armed conflict was only marginally associated with stunting and underweight but not wasting. Longer conflicts that occurred in the last year were also associated with the odds of stunting [AOR = 1.25, 95%CI: 1.17–1.33] and underweight [AOR = 1.19, 95%CI: 1.11–1.26] but not wasting. Conclusion Childhood exposure to armed conflict is associated with long-term malnutrition in children aged 36–59 months in Nigeria. Strategies that aim to end childhood malnutrition could target children exposed to armed conflicts.
  • Deferral of elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Palestinian patients: a cross-sectional study

    Mousa Atary; Niveen M. E. Abu-Rmeileh (BMC, 2023-03-01)
    Abstract Background During the Covid-19 epidemic, the increased number of people seeking medical attention worsened hospital shortages. This shortage required reallocating the workforce, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, medical disposables, and hospital wards. This reallocation delayed a number of elective surgeries. This study explored the financial, physical, and psychological implications of deferring elective surgeries on Palestinians in three West Bank hospitals during the pandemic. Methods This cross-sectional study included 398 patients from tertiary hospitals in Palestine whose elective surgical procedures were deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 8/8/2021 and 6/9/2021, data were collected on patients who had elective surgery deferral at three government hospitals in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. There were five parts to the study tool; personal information, access to the health system, physical affection, financial effect, and psychological effect. Statistical analysis included a univariate, bivariate and multivariate. Results The healthcare system's response to the COVID-19 epidemic directly affected patients whose surgeries were deferred. The healthcare system's response was the cause of the delay in 91.5% of the cases. Orthopedic and neurological surgeries account for 48.3% of deferred surgery. Other than delayed surgeries, 30.2% of patients were unable to get additional health care services. Physically, 55.5% of patients were impacted, 45% were anxious, and 29.6% were depressed. Conclusions Patients who had procedures deferred as a result of the healthcare system's response to the COVID-19 epidemic were impacted physically, financially, and psychologically. There should bea better crisis management strategyto ensure that certain hospitals are able to operate regularly despite the situation.
  • Evolution and lessons from an integrated service delivery network in North West Syria

    Sophie Witter; Karin Diaconu; Ibrahim Bou-Orm; Zeina Jamal; Zubin Cyrus Shroff; Abdulbaki Mahmoud; Mahmoud Daher; Vinod Varma (BMC, 2023-03-01)
    Abstract Background Northwest Syria (NWS) is a complex and extremely fragile operating environment, with more than 2.8 million people needing humanitarian assistance. To support a common standard of care delivery and enable coordination among the multiple providers in NWS, WHO developed an Essential Health Services package (EHSP) in 2016-17 and subsequently supported a facility network model to deliver the EHSP. This article provides an evaluation of the network to date, aiming to inform further development of the network and draw wider lessons for application of similar approaches in complex emergency settings. Methods This mixed method study included document review, participatory, qualitative and quantitative data, gathered in the first half of 2021. Participatory data came from two group model building workshops with 21 funders and implementers. Semi-structured interviews with 81 funders, health professionals and community members were also conducted. Analyses of the workshops and interviews was inductive, however a deductive approach was used for synthesising insights across this and the document review. The final component was a survey of health providers (59 health care professionals) and service users (233 pregnant women and 214 persons living with NCDs) across network and other comparable facilities, analysed using routine descriptive and inferential statistics. Findings across all methods were triangulated. Results The study finds that the network and its accompanying essential service package were relevant to the dynamic and challenging context, with high but shifting population needs and multiple uncoordinated providers. Judged in relation to its original goals of comprehensive, coordinated services, equitable access and efficient service delivery, the data indicate that gains have been made in all three areas through the network, although attribution is challenging, given the complex environment. The context remains challenging, with shifting boundaries and populations displaced by conflict, difficulties in retaining staff, the need to import medicines and supplies across borders, and governance gaps. Conclusion This study adds to a very limited literature on coordinated network approaches used to raise care quality and improve referrals and efficiency in a complex emergency setting. Although areas of ongoing challenge, including for sustainability, are noted, the network demonstrated some resilience strategies and can provide lessons for other similar contexts.
  • Sustainability of health services in refugee hosting districts: a qualitative study of health services in three west Nile refugee hosting districts, Uganda

    Henry Komakech; Christopher Garimoi Orach; Lynn M. Atuyambe (BMC, 2023-03-01)
    Abstract Background Humanitarian health assistance programmes have expanded from temporary approaches addressing short-term needs to providing long-term interventions in emergency settings. Measuring sustainability of humanitarian health services is important towards improving the quality of health services in refugee settings. Objective To explore the sustainability of health services following the repatriation of refugees from the west Nile districts of Arua, Adjumani and Moyo. Methods This was a qualitative comparative case study conducted in three west Nile refugee-hosting districts of Arua, Adjumani, and Moyo. In-depth interviews were conducted with 28 purposefully selected respondents in each of the three districts. Respondents included health workers and managers, district civic leaders, planners, chief administrative officers, district health officers, project staff of aid agencies, refugee health focal persons and community development officers. Results The study shows that in terms of organization capacity, the District Health Teams provided health services to both refugee and host communities with minimal support from aid agencies. Health services were available in most former refugee hosting areas in Adjumani, Arua and Moyo districts. However, there were several disruptions notably reduction and inadequate services due to shortage of drugs and essential supplies, lack of health workers, and closure or relocation of health facilities in around former settlements. To minimize disruptions the district health office reorganized health services. In restructuring health services, the district local governments closed or upgraded health facilities to address reduced capacity and catchment population. Health workers employed by aid agencies were recruited into government services while others who were deemed excess or unqualified were laid off. Equipment and machinery including machines and vehicles were transferred to the district health office in specific health facilities. Funding for health services was mainly provided by the Government of Uganda through the Primary Health Care Grant. Aid agencies, however, continued to provide minimal support health services for refugees who remained in Adjumani district. Conclusion Our study showed that while humanitarian health services are not designed for sustainability, several interventions continued at the end of the refugee emergency in the three districts. The embeddedness of the refugee health services in the district health systems ensured health services continued through public service delivery structures. It is important to strengthen the capacity of the local service delivery structures and ensure health assistance programmes are integrated into local health systems to promote sustainability.
  • Prevalence and multi-level factors associated with acute malnutrition among children aged 6–59 months from war affected communities of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, 2021: a cross-sectional study

    Gebretsadkan Gebremedhin Gebretsadik; Mahlet Abraha; Tedros Bereket; Ferehiwot Hailemariam; Freweini Gebrearegay; Tigist Hagos; Mizan Assefa; Kidanemaryam Berhe; Hadush Gebregziabher; Amaha Kahsay Adhanu (BMC, 2023-03-01)
    Abstract Background Armed conflicts greatly affect the health, nutrition, and food security of conflict affected settings particularly children. However, no empirical data exist regarding context specific factors contributing towards acute malnutrition in the war-torn Tigray, Ethiopia. Thus, this study aimed to identify individual and community level factors associated with acute malnutrition among children aged 6–59 months from armed conflict affected settings of Tigray, Ethiopia. Methods A community based cross-sectional study was conducted among 3,614 children aged 6–59 months in Tigray, from July 15 to Aug 15, 2021. Study participants were selected using a two-stage random sampling method. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data by interviewing mothers/caregivers. Mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurements were taken from upper left arm of the children using MUAC tapes. Multivariable multilevel logistic regression analysis was used to determine factors associated with acute malnutrition. Adjusted Odds ratio (AOR) with 95% CI were estimated to describe the strength of associations at p < 0.05. Results More than half (52.5%) of the sampled children were males in sex. Immediately after the first nine months into the conflict, the prevalence of severe, moderate, and global acute malnutrition was very high (5.1%, 21.8%, and 26.9%, respectively) in Tigray. The lowest and highest burden of child acute malnutrition was reported from Mekelle zone (13.3%) and Southeastern zone (36.7%), respectively. Individual-level factors such as older child age (AOR = 0.13, 95% CI: 0.10, 0.18), female child sex (AOR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.05, 1.480.95), Vitamin-A supplementation (AOR = 1.3, 95% CI: 1.05, 1.65), and history of diarrhea (AOR = 1.22, 95%CI: 1.02, 1.53) and community-level factors like unimproved drinking water source (AOR = 1.31, 95%CI: 1.08, 1.58), unimproved toilet facility (AOR = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.52), and severe food insecurity (AOR = 1.55, 95% CI: 1.16. 2.07) were significantly associated with childhood acute malnutrition. Conclusions The burden of acute malnutrition is a severe public health problem in Tigray. To prevent the untimely suffering and death of children, regular nutrition screening, speedy, and appropriate referral of all malnourished children to nutritional services and large-scale humanitarian assistance including access to food; nutrition supplies; water, sanitation and hygiene supplies; and health care in a timely manner are required. In the prevailing armed conflict, these have been very difficult to achieve. Thus, immediate international intervention is needed.
  • The predictors of food security and dietary diversity among internally displaced persons’ children (6–59 months) in Bamenda health district, Cameroon

    Ayuk Betrand Tambe; Mbah Larissa Akeh; Nicholas Tendongfor; Thembekile Dhlamini; Given Chipili; Xikombiso Mbhenyane (BMC, 2023-03-01)
    Abstract Background Malnutrition remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality amongst children in displaced settings. Nutrition at this stage is crucial for the growth and development of the child. It is estimated that 41 million children under 5 years are obese/overweight, 159 million are stunted and 50 million are wasted worldwide. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and predictors of food insecurity and dietary diversity among internally displaced persons’ children from 6 to 59 months. Methodology A cross sectional community-based study was conducted on 395 children aged 6–59 months from May 2021-June 2021. A multistage cluster sampling method was used to select the study participants. A validated structured questionnaire was used to collect data on sociodemographic characteristics, food security and dietary diversity. Predictors of food insecurity and dietary diversity were identified using logistic regression. The outputs were presented using adjusted odd ratio (AOR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Results The study results revealed that the level of household food insecurity was 91.6%, at risk of experiencing hunger (3.3%) and food secure (5.5%). Participants had mean dietary diversity score of 3.6 food groups, 51.6% had a low or inadequate dietary diversity and 48.4% had adequate dietary diversity. Children who were from households with monthly income of $101- $200 US dollars and had been displaced just once were 79% (AOR: 0.21, 95%CI: 0.07–0.60) and 84% (AOR: 0.16, 95%CI: 0.05–0.50) less likely to be food insecure compared to their counterparts respectively. While households with participants who Walked ≥ 10 min to fetch drinking water (AOR: 11.61 95%CI: 2.39–52.08) were more likely food insecure. In addition, household monthly income of ≥ $100 US dollars (AOR: 0.20, 95%CI: 0.07–0.56) had a reduced chance of providing low diversified food. Households that had received social grants (AOR: 2.15, 95%CI: 1.38–3.49) and walked ≥ 10 min to fetch drinking water (AOR: 2.43, 95%CI: 1.48–3.98) had a higher chance of providing low diversified food. Conclusion Dietary diversity and household food insecurity was unacceptably low and high respectively among internally displaced children. Policymakers should prioritize strengthening both nutrition sensitive and specific activities that contribute to reduction of food insecurity and consumption of unbalance diet.
  • Ensuring equity in mental health and psychosocial support during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

    Andrea Armijos; Annie G. Bonz; Felicity L. Brown; Danielle Charlet; Flora Cohen; M. Claire Greene; Sabrina Hermosilla; Leah E. James; Karine Le Roch; MHPSS Implementation Science Learning Collaborative (BMC, 2023-02-01)
    Abstract Populations affected by armed conflict and other humanitarian crises are at elevated risk for mental health problems. While the COVID-19 pandemic has had broadly deleterious effects on livelihoods, economic well-being, and population health worldwide, vulnerable groups have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Providing mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services during these times to vulnerable groups, especially in low- and middle-income countries and humanitarian settings, is essential. In an effort to comply with the public health response to the pandemic and mitigate COVID-19 transmission, significant implementation adaptations were made to service delivery during the pandemic. This short report describes several strategies to ensure that equity was central to these adaptations and public health responses, and provides recommendations for ensuring continuity of this progress post-pandemic. Examples and key lessons learned are given related to strategies to increase access to MHPSS services, improve meaningful stakeholder engagement, develop and support community networks, and implement community-based psychosocial support groups. They come from diverse settings of Bangladesh, Colombia, Ecuador, and Lebanon. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of preventing and treating MHPSS issues. It also has created opportunities for innovative programming to address overlooked problems, improve the quality of services provided, and increase focus on equity. It is vital that we use the momentum and attention generated around MHPSS services during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to build and improve existing MHPSS services in more equitable ways for vulnerable populations.
  • Lessons identified from initiating a thalassaemia programme in a conflict setting: a case study from northeast Syria

    Sally MacVinish; Crystal van Leeuwen; Maartje Hoetjes; Yoshihiro Aoki; Deirdre Foley; Harriet Roggeveen (BMC, 2023-02-01)
    Abstract Background Thalassaemia affects many families in Northeast Syria, an area devastated by over a decade of conflict which has significantly impacted their health system. People with thalassaemia require holistic multidisciplinary care for the clinical complications of thalassaemia. The risks of thalassaemia treatment include blood-borne viral infections secondary to unsafe transfusion, increased vulnerability to serious bacterial infection following splenectomy, and complications of both iron overload and iron chelation therapy. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provided outpatient thalassaemia care programmes in northeast Syria between April 2017 October 2019 in a complex conflict context challenged by population displacement, the destruction of medical facilities, and periods of insecurity. Methods We performed a secondary descriptive analysis of the thalassaemia cohort data to describe basic clinical and demographic characteristics of the patient population. A desk review of internal and publicly available documents was supplemented by informal interviews with MSF staff to describe and analyse the programmatic approach. Case description MSF delivered programmes with thalassaemia investigations, provision of blood transfusion, iron chelation therapy, and psychosocial support. Thalassemia programmes were novel for the organisation and operational learning took place alongside service implementation. Lessons were identified on equipment procurement and the requirements for the implementation of vital investigations (including ferritin testing), to inform clinical decision making. Lessons included the importance of supply planning for sufficient blood products to meet diverse clinical needs in a conflict area, so those with thalassaemia have continued access to blood products among the competing priorities. Iron chelation therapy met a large need in this cohort. Adapted protocols were implemented to balance social factors, hygiene considerations, toxicity, tolerability, and adherence to therapy. Wider service needs included considerations for family planning advice and services, continuity of care and patient access through decentralised services or laboratory access, psychosocial support, and improved data collection including quality of life measurements to understand the full impact of such programmes. Conclusions Although this type of programming was not “routine” for the organisation, MSF demonstrated that life-sustaining thalassaemia care can be provided in complex conflict settings. International non-governmental organisations can consider this care possible in similar contexts.
  • Underestimating attacks: comparing two sources of publicly-available data about attacks on health care in 2017

    Vanessa Parada; Larissa Fast; Carolyn Briody; Christina Wille; Rudi Coninx (BMC, 2023-01-01)
    Abstract Background Attacks on health care represent an area of growing international concern. Publicly available data are important in documenting attacks, and are often the only easily accessible data source. Data collection processes about attacks on health and their implications have received little attention, despite the fact that datasets and their collection processes may result in differing numbers. Comparing two separate datasets compiled using publicly-available data revealed minimal overlap. This article aims to explain the reasons for the lack of overlap, to better understand the gaps and their implications. Methods We compared the data collection processes for datasets comprised of publicly-reported attacks on health care from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Insecurity Insight’s Security in Numbers Database (SiND). We compared each individual event to compile a comparable dataset and identify unique and matched events in order to determine the overlap between them. We report descriptive statistics for this comparison. Results We identified a common dataset of 287 events from 2017, of which only 33 appeared in both datasets, resulting in a mere 12.9% (n = 254) overlap. Events affecting personnel and facilities appeared most often in both, and 22 of 31 countries lacked any overlap between datasets. Conclusions We conclude that the minimal overlap suggests significant underreporting of attacks on health care, and furthermore, that dataset definitions and parameters affect data collection. Source variation appears to best explain the discrepancies and closer comparison of the collection processes reveal weaknesses of both automated and manual data collection that rely on hidden curation processes. To generate more accurate datasets compiled from public sources requires systematic work to translate definitions into effective online search mechanisms to better capture the full range of events, and to increase the diversity of languages and local sources to better capture events across geographies.

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