• A case study of health sector reform in Kosovo

      Sondorp Egbert; Percival Valerie (BMC, 2010-04-01)
      <p>Abstract</p> <p>The impact of conflict on population health and health infrastructure has been well documented; however the efforts of the international community to rebuild health systems in post-conflict periods have not been systematically examined. Based on a review of relevant literature, this paper develops a framework for analyzing health reform in post-conflict settings, and applies this framework to the case study of health system reform in post-conflict Kosovo. The paper examines two questions: first, the selection of health reform measures; and second, the outcome of the reform process. It measures the success of reforms by the extent to which reform achieved its objectives. Through an examination of primary documents and interviews with key stakeholders, the paper demonstrates that the external nature of the reform process, the compressed time period for reform, and weak state capacity undermined the ability of the success of the reform program.</p>
    • A comprehensive review of HIV/STI prevention and sexual and reproductive health services among sex Workers in Conflict-Affected Settings: call for an evidence- and rights-based approach in the humanitarian response

      Alyssa Ferguson; Kate Shannon; Jennifer Butler; Shira M. Goldenberg (BMC, 2017-12-01)
      Abstract Background While the conditions in emergency humanitarian and conflict-affected settings often result in significant sex work economies, there is limited information on the social and structural conditions of sex work in these settings, and the impacts on HIV/STI prevention and access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for sex workers. Our objective was to comprehensively review existing evidence on HIV/STI prevention and access to SRH services for sex workers in conflict-affected settings globally. Methods We conducted a comprehensive review of all peer review (both epidemiological and qualitative) and grey literature published in the last 15 years (2000–2015), focusing on 1) HIV/STI vulnerability or prevention, and/or 2) access to SRH services for sex workers in conflict-affected settings. Five databases were searched, using combinations of sex work, conflict/mobility, HIV/STI, and SRH service terms. Relevant peer-reviewed and grey literature were also hand-searched, and key papers were cross-referenced for additional material. Results Five hundred fifty one records were screened and 416 records reviewed. Of 33 records describing HIV/STI prevention and/or access to SRH services among sex workers in conflict-affected settings, 24 were from sub-Saharan Africa; 18 studies described the results of primary research (13 quantitative, 3 qualitative, 2 mixed-methods) and 15 were non-primary research (e.g., commentaries, policy reports, programmatic manuals). Available evidence indicated that within conflict-affected settings, SWs’ capacity to engage in HIV/STI prevention and access SRH services is severely undermined by social and structural determinants including widespread violence and human rights violations, the collapse of livelihoods and traditional social structures, high levels of displacement, and difficulties accessing already scant health services due to stigma, discrimination and criminalization. Discussion/Conclusions This review identified significant gaps in HIV/STI and SRH research, policy, and programming for conflict-affected sex workers, highlighting a critical gap in the humanitarian response. Sex worker-informed policies and interventions to promote HIV/STI prevention and access to HIV and SRH services using a rights-based approach are recommended, and further research on the degree to which conflict-affected sex workers are accessing HIV/STI and SRH services is recommended. A paradigm shift from the behavioural and biomedical approach to a human rights-based approach to HIV/STI prevention and SRH is strongly recommended.
    • A Congolese community-based health program for survivors of sexual violence

      Kohli Anjalee; Makambo Maphie; Ramazani Paul; Zahiga Isaya; Mbika Biki; Safari Octave; Bachunguye Richard; Mirindi Janvier; Glass Nancy (BioMed Central, 2012-08-01)
      <p>Abstract</p> <p>Many survivors of gender based violence (GBV) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) report barriers to access health services including, distance, cost, lack of trained providers and fear of stigma. In 2004, Foundation RamaLevina (FORAL), a Congolese health and social non-governmental organization, started a mobile health program for vulnerable women and men to address the barriers to access identified by GBV survivors and their families in rural South Kivu province, Eastern DRC. FORAL conducted a case study of the implementation of this program between July 2010-June 2011 in 6 rural villages. The case study engaged FORAL staff, partner health care providers, community leaders and survivors in developing and implementing a revised strategy with the goal of improving and sustaining health services. The case study focused on: (1) Expansion of mobile clinic services and visit schedule; (2) Clinical monitoring and evaluation system; and (3) Recognition, documentation and brief psychosocial support for symptoms suggestive of anxiety, depression and PTSD. During this period, FORAL treated 772 women of which 85% reported being survivors of sexual violence. Almost half of the women (45%) reported never receiving health services after the last sexual assault. The majority of survivors reported symptoms consistent with STI. Male partner adherence to STI treatment was low (41%). The case study demonstrated areas of strengths in FORAL’s program, including improved access to health care by survivors and their male partner, enhanced quality of health education and facilitated regular monitoring, follow-up care and referrals. In addition, three critical areas were identified by FORAL that needed further development: provision of health services to young, unmarried women in a way that reduces possibility of future stigma, engaging male partners in health education and clinical care and strengthening linkages for referral of survivors and their partners to psychosocial support and mental health services. FORAL’s model of offering health education to all community members, partnering with local providers to leverage resources and their principal of avoiding labeling the clinic as one for survivors will help women and their families in the DRC and other conflict settings to comfortably and safely access needed health care services.</p>
    • A crisis of protection and safe passage: violence experienced by migrants/refugees travelling along the Western Balkan corridor to Northern Europe

      Jovana Arsenijević; Erin Schillberg; Aurelie Ponthieu; Lucio Malvisi; Waeil A. Elrahman Ahmed; Stefano Argenziano; Federica Zamatto; Simon Burroughs; Natalie Severy; Christophe Hebting; et al. (BioMed Central, 2017-04-01)
      Abstract Background Pushed by ongoing conflicts and pulled by the desire for a better life, over one million migrants/refugees transited Balkan countries and arrived in Europe during 2015 and early 2016. To curb this influx, European countries instituted restrictive migration policies often characterized by building of razor-wire border fences and border closures. Among migrants/refugees who received mental health care in Serbia while travelling through Balkan countries to Northern Europe, we assessed the prevalence and patterns of violent events experienced including physical trauma. Methods A mixed methods study among migrants/refugees attending mobile mental health clinics run by Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) between July 2015 and June 2016, in Serbia – a main transit hub to European countries. Clinics were conducted according to MSF guidelines by experienced psychologists who were supported by cultural mediators. The main outcome measures were violent events and associated physical trauma. Results Of 992 migrants/refugees attending MSF mental health clinics, the majority (72%) were from Syria and Afghanistan and included vulnerable groups (14%) such as unaccompanied minors and pregnant women. The most frequent mental health symptoms/signs were anxiety (29%) and adjustment reactions (26%). Of the 992 migrants/refugees, 270 (27%) had experienced violent events during their journey. Signs of physical trauma due to acts of violence were seen in 223(22%) of the 992 individuals, 144 (65%) being perpetrated by State authorities and involving women (11%) and children (13%). Border closures along the Balkan route were associated with a dramatic decrease in registered migrants/refugee arrivals in Serbia. Conversely, among those that made it across the borders, an increasing linear trend in reported violent events was observed at MSF mental health clinics (X 2 for linear trend, P <0 · 001). Qualitative evidence corroborated with quantitative findings. Conclusions Nearly one-in-three migrants/refugees seen in MSF clinics experienced violent events including physical trauma along their journey. State authorities, including those in European countries were the perpetrators in over half of such events which were associated with border closures. There is “a crisis of protection and safe passage” which needs to change towards one of respect for the principles of international human rights and refugee law.
    • A cross-sectional assessment of diabetes self-management, education and support needs of Syrian refugee patients living with diabetes in Bekaa Valley Lebanon

      James A. Elliott; Debashish Das; Philippe Cavailler; Fabien Schneider; Maya Shah; Annette Ravaud; Maria Lightowler; Philippa Boulle (BioMed Central, 2018-09-01)
      Abstract Background Patients with diabetes require knowledge and skills to self-manage their disease, a challenging aspect of treatment that is difficult to address in humanitarian settings. Due to the lack of literature and experience regarding diabetes self-management, education and support (DSMES) in refugee populations, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) undertook a DSMES survey in a cohort of diabetes patients seen in their primary health care program in Lebanon. Methods Structured interviews were conducted with diabetes patients in three primary care clinics between January and February 2015. Scores (0–10) were calculated to measure diabetes core knowledge in each patient (the DSMES score). Awareness of long-term complications and educational preferences were also assessed. Analyses were conducted using Stata software, version 14.1 (StataCorp). Simple and multiple linear regression models were used to determine associations between various patient factors and the DSMES Score. Results A total of 292 patients were surveyed. Of these, 92% had type 2 diabetes and most (70%) had been diagnosed prior to the Syrian conflict. The mean DSMES score was 6/10. Having secondary education, previous diabetes education, a ‘diabetes confidant’, and insulin use were each associated with a higher DSMES Score. Lower scores were significantly more likely to be seen in participants with increasing age and in patients who were diagnosed during the Syrian conflict. Long-term complications of diabetes most commonly known by patients were vision related complications (68% of patients), foot ulcers (39%), and kidney failure (38%). When asked about the previous Ramadan, 56% of patients stated that they undertook a full fast, including patients with type 1 diabetes. Individual and group lessons were preferred by more patients than written, SMS, telephone or internet-based educational delivery models. Conclusions DSMES should be patient and context appropriate. The variety and complexities of humanitarian settings provide particular challenges to its appropriate provision. Understanding patient baseline DSMES levels and needs provides a useful basis for humanitarian organizations seeking to provide diabetes care.
    • A factor analytic investigation of DSM-5 PTSD symptoms in a culturally diverse sample of refugees resettled in Australia

      Philippa Specker; Belinda J. Liddell; Yulisha Byrow; Richard A. Bryant; Angela Nickerson (BioMed Central, 2018-05-01)
      Abstract Background Refugees and asylum-seekers are often exposed to multiple types of potentially traumatic events (PTEs) and report elevated rates of psychological disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Considering this, refugee populations merit continued research in the field of traumatic stress to better understand the psychological impact of these experiences. The symptom structure of PTSD underwent a major revision in the recent formulation in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and this reformulation has yet to be comprehensively investigated in the context of PTSD arising from traumatic events experienced by refugees. The current study assessed the construct validity of the DSM-5 PTSD structure in a refugee sample from a variety of cultural backgrounds alongside four alternate models commonly identified in western populations, namely the four-factor Dysphoria model, the five-factor Dysphoric Arousal model, and the six-factor Anhedonia and Externalising Behaviours models. Methods A total of 246 refugees settled in Australia were assessed using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire, to measure exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs), and the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale, to assess symptoms of PTSD based on DSM-5 criteria. All measures were translated into Arabic, Farsi or Tamil using rigorous translation procedures, or provided in English. Results Findings from five confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) revealed that all models demonstrated acceptable model fit. However, an examination of relative fit revealed that the DSM-5 model provided the poorest fit overall for our sample. Instead, we found preliminary evidence in support of the six-factor Anhedonia model, comprising the symptom clusters of re-experiencing, avoidance, negative affect, anhedonia, dysphoric arousal and anxious arousal, as the superior model for our data. Conclusions Our findings offer preliminary support for the applicability of the Anhedonia model to a culturally diverse refugee sample, and contribute to a growing body of studies which indicate that the DSM-5 model may not best represent the symptom structure of PTSD found across non-western conflict-affected populations.
    • A forgotten group during humanitarian crises: a systematic review of sexual and reproductive health interventions for young people including adolescents in humanitarian settings

      Lauren Jennings; Asha S. George; Tanya Jacobs; Karl Blanchet; Neha S. Singh (BMC, 2019-11-01)
      Abstract Background Young people including adolescents face barriers to healthcare and increased risk of poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH), which are exacerbated in humanitarian settings. Our systematic review assessed the evidence on SRH interventions for young people including adolescents in humanitarian settings, strategies to increase their utilisation and their effects on health outcomes. Methods We searched peer-reviewed and grey literature published between 1980 and 2018 using search terms for adolescents, young people, humanitarian crises in low- and middle- income countries and SRH in four databases and relevant websites. We analysed literature matching pre-defined inclusion criteria using narrative synthesis methodology, and appraised for study quality. Findings We found nine peer-reviewed and five grey literature articles, the majority published post-2012 and mostly high- or medium-quality, focusing on prevention of unintended pregnancies, HIV/STIs, maternal and newborn health, and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. We found no studies on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), safe abortion, post-abortion care, urogenital fistulae or female genital mutilation (FGM). Thirteen studies reported positive effects on outcomes (majority were positive changes in knowledge and attitudes), seven studies reported no effects in some SRH outcomes measured, and one study reported a decrease in number of new and repeat FP clients. Strategies to increase intervention utilisation by young people include adolescent-friendly spaces, peer workers, school-based activities, and involving young people. Discussion Young people, including adolescents, continue to be a neglected group in humanitarian settings. While we found evidence that some SRH interventions for young people are being implemented, there are insufficient details of specific intervention components and outcome measurements to adequately map these interventions. Efforts to address this key population’s SRH needs and evaluate effective implementation modalities require urgent attention. Specifically, greater quantity and quality of evidence on programmatic implementation of these interventions are needed, especially for comprehensive abortion care, PMTCT, urogenital fistulae, FGM, and for LGBTQI populations and persons with disabilities. If embedded within a broader SRH programme, implementers and/or researchers should include young people-specific strategies, targeted at both girls/women and boys/men where appropriate, and collect age- and sex-disaggregated data to help ascertain if this population’s diverse needs are being addressed.
    • A qualitative approach to understand antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence for refugees living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda

      Kelli N. O’Laughlin; Shada A. Rouhani; Julius Kasozi; Kelsy E. Greenwald; Nicholas R. Perkons; Zikama M. Faustin; Ingrid V. Bassett; Norma C. Ware (BMC, 2018-03-01)
      Abstract Background Refugees living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa suffer unique hardships that may increase their vulnerability to interruptions in antiretroviral therapy (ART). Methods To investigate refugees’ experiences adhering to ART, we conducted inperson interviews with refugees on ART (n = 73) and HIV clinic staff (n = 4) in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in southwest Uganda from March to July 2011. Three analysts used a conventional content analysis approach to evaluate these data. Results Refugees described profound motivation to adhere to ART and employed adherence strategies to facilitate success despite the austere setting. However, refugees spoke of specific hardships living in Nakivale that served as barriers to ART adherence, including difficulty accessing clinic when ill, food insecurity, drug stockouts, and violence and unrest in the settlement. For some refugees, need for ART inextricably linked them to the HIV clinic and prevented them from transitioning permanently away from the settlement. Conclusions By learning about refugees’ experiences we can design informed interventions to enhance ART adherence, thus minimizing morbidity and mortality, preventing transmission of HIV, and supporting refugees’ abilities to move freely toward repatriation, resettlement or integration in their host country.
    • A qualitative study exploring child marriage practices among Syrian conflict-affected populations in Lebanon

      Rima Mourtada; Jennifer Schlecht; Jocelyn DeJong (BMC, 2017-11-01)
      Abstract Background Recent reports have suggested that child marriage among Syrians may be increasing as a result of displacement and conflict. This study sought to gather qualitative data about the factors that promote child marriage practices among Syrian refugees in Al Marj area in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon, where the majority of Syrian refugees have settled in Lebanon. The second aim of this study was to generate recommendations on how to mitigate the drivers and consequences of child marriage practices based on the findings. Methods Eight focus group discussions were conducted separately with married and unmarried young women and mothers and fathers of married and unmarried women. Furthermore, researchers conducted 11 key informant interviews with service providers and stakeholders to understand how conflict and displacement influenced marriage practices of Syrian refugees in Al Marj community. Results Although child marriage was a common practice in pre-conflict Syria, new factors seem to contribute to a higher risk of child marriage among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Respondents cited conflict- and displacement-related safety issues and feeling of insecurity, the worsening of economic conditions, and disrupted education for adolescent women as driving factors. Service providers, young women, and parents also reported changes in some marriage practices, including a shorter engagement period, lower bride price, change in cousin marriage practices, and a reduced age at marriage. Conclusions Recommendations for interventions to mitigate the drivers of child marriage and its negative consequences should be built on a clear understanding of the local refugee context and the drivers of child marriage in refugee settings. Interventions should involve multiple stakeholders, they should be adjusted to target each specific context, age group and marital status. For these interventions to be effective, they should be addressed concurrently, and they should be delivered in a culturally sensitive and practical manner.
    • A review of factors affecting the transfer of sexual and reproductive health training into practice in low and lower-middle income country humanitarian settings

      Kristen Beek; Angela Dawson; Anna Whelan (BMC, 2017-09-01)
      Abstract Background A lack of access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among displaced women and girls of reproductive age. Efforts to address this public health emergency in humanitarian settings have included the widespread delivery of training programmes to address gaps in health worker capacity for SRH. There remains a lack of data on the factors which may affect the ability of health workers to apply SRH knowledge and skills gained through training programmes in humanitarian contexts. Methods We searched four electronic databases and ten key organizations’ websites to locate literature on SRH training for humanitarian settings in low and lower-middle income countries. Papers were examined using content analysis to identify factors which contribute to health workers’ capacity to transfer SRH knowledge, skills and attitudes learned in training into practice in humanitarian settings. Results Seven studies were included in this review. Six research papers focused on the response stage of humanitarian crises and five papers featured the disaster context of conflict. A range of SRH components were addressed including maternal, newborn health and sexual violence. The review identified factors, including appropriate resourcing, organisational support and confidence in health care workers that were found to facilitate the transfer of learning. The findings suggest the presence of factors that moderate the transfer of training at the individual, training, organisational, socio-cultural, political and health system levels. Conclusion Supportive strategies are necessary to best assist trainees to apply newly acquired knowledge and skills in their work settings. These interventions must address factors that moderate the success of learning transfer. Findings from this review suggest that these are related to the individual trainee, the training program itself and the workplace as well as the broader environmental context. Organisations which provide SRH training for humanitarian emergencies should work to identify the system of moderating factors that affect training transfer in their setting and employ evidence-based strategies to ameliorate these.
    • A scoping review of the associations between mental health and factors related to HIV acquisition and disease progression in conflict-affected populations

      Erica Koegler; Caitlin E. Kennedy (BioMed Central, 2018-06-01)
      Abstract The association between poor mental health and factors related to HIV acquisition and disease progression (also referred to as HIV-related factors) may be stronger among conflict-affected populations given elevated rates of mental health disorders. We conducted a scoping review of the literature to identify evidence-based associations between mental health (depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]) and factors related to HIV acquisition and progression in conflict-affected populations. Five electronic databases were searched on October 10, 2014 and updated on March 7, 2017 to identify peer-reviewed publications presenting primary data from January 1, 1994 to March 7, 2017. Articles were included if: 1) depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD was assessed using a validated scale, 2) HIV or HIV-related factors were a primary focus, 3) quantitative associations between depression/anxiety/PTSD and HIV or HIV-related factors were assessed, and 4) the study population was conflict-affected and from a conflict-affected setting. Of 714 citations identified, 33 articles covering 110,818 participants were included. Most were from sub-Saharan Africa (n = 25), five were from the USA, and one each was from the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. There were 23 cross-sectional, 3 time-series, and 7 cohort studies. The search identified that mental health has been quantitatively associated with the following categories of HIV-related factors in conflict-affected populations: markers of HIV risk, HIV-related health status, sexual risk behaviors, and HIV risk exposures (i.e. sexual violence). Further, findings suggest that symptoms of poor mental health are associated with sexual risk behaviors and HIV markers, while HIV risk exposures and health status are associated with symptoms of poor mental health. Results suggest a role for greater integration and referrals across HIV and mental health programs for conflict-affected populations.
    • A systematic literature review of the ethics of conducting research in the humanitarian setting

      William Bruno; Rohini J. Haar (BMC, 2020-05-01)
      Abstract Background Research around humanitarian crises, aid delivery, and the impact of these crises on health and well-being has expanded dramatically. Ethical issues around these topics have recently received more attention. We conducted a systematic literature review to synthesize the lessons learned regarding the ethics of research in humanitarian crises. Methods We conducted a systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines to identify articles regarding the ethics of research in humanitarian contexts between January 1, 1997 and September 1, 2019. We analyzed the articles to extract key themes and develop an agenda for future research. Results We identified 52 articles that matched our inclusion criteria. We categorized the article data into five categories of analysis: 32 were expert statements, 18 were case studies, 11 contained original research, eight were literature reviews and three were book chapters. All included articles were published in English. Using a step-wise qualitative analysis, we identified 10 major themes that encompassed these concepts and points. These major themes were: ethics review process (21 articles, [40.38%]); community engagement (15 articles [28.85%]); the dual imperative, or necessity that research be both academically sound and policy driven, clinical trials in the humanitarian setting (13 articles for each, [25.0%)]; informed consent (10 articles [19.23%]); cultural considerations (6 articles, [11.54%]); risks to researchers (5 articles, [9.62%]); child participation (4 articles [7.69%]); and finally mental health, and data ownership (2 articles for each [3.85%]). Conclusions Interest in the ethics of studying humanitarian crises has been dramatically increasing in recent years. While key concepts within all research settings such as beneficence, justice and respect for persons are crucially relevant, there are considerations unique to the humanitarian context. The particular vulnerabilities of conflict-affected populations, the contextual challenges of working in humanitarian settings, and the need for ensuring strong community engagement at all levels make this area of research particularly challenging. Humanitarian crises are prevalent throughout the globe, and studying them with the utmost ethical forethought is critical to maintaining sound research principles and ethical standards.
    • A systematic review of monitoring and evaluation indicators for sexual and reproductive health in humanitarian settings

      Elena T. Broaddus-Shea; Loulou Kobeissi; Osama Ummer; Lale Say (BMC, 2019-10-01)
      Abstract Objective To conduct a comprehensive mapping of published indicators for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and outcomes in humanitarian settings. Methods A systematic search of the peer-reviewed and grey literature published between January 2008 and May 2018 was conducted to identify all references describing indicator sets for M&E of SRH services and outcomes in humanitarian settings. The databases MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Global Health, as well as 85 websites of relevant organizations involved in humanitarian response were searched. Characteristics of identified indicator sets and data from individual indicators was extracted. Findings Of 3278 records identified, 20 met the review’s inclusion criteria and 9 existing indicator sets were identified. A total of 179 relevant indicators were included in the mapping, and removal of duplicates yielded 132 unique indicators. Twenty-seven percent fell within the maternal health domain, followed by the HIV/AIDS domain (26%) and the gender-based violence domain (23%). The distribution of indicators by type (process/output, outcome, impact) was balanced overall but varied substantially across domains. The most commonly used data collection platforms were facility-based systems or population-based surveys. Domains covered and indicator definitions were inconsistent across indicator sets. Conclusion Results demonstrate the need to standardize data collection efforts for M&E of SRH services and outcomes in humanitarian settings and to critically appraise the extent to which different domains should be covered. A core list of indicators is essential for assessing response status over time as well as across countries.
    • A validation study of the Zanmi Lasante Depression Symptom Inventory (ZLDSI) in a school-based study population of transitional age youth in Haiti

      Rupinder K. Legha; Margaret E. Gerbasi; Mary C. Smith Fawzi; Eddy Eustache; Tatiana Therosme; J. Reginald Fils-Aime; Giuseppe J. Raviola; Emmeline Affricot; Ermaze Louis Pierre; Yoldie Alcindor (BMC, 2020-02-01)
      Abstract Background The Zanmi Lasante Depression Symptom Inventory (ZLDSI) is a screening tool for major depression used in 12 primary care clinics in Haiti’s Central Plateau. Although previously validated in a clinic-based sample, the present study is the first to evaluate the validity and clinical utility of the ZLDSI for depression screening in a school-based population in central Haiti. Methods We assessed depressive symptoms in a school-based sample of transitional age youth (18–22 years; n = 120) with the ZLDSI. Other mental health-related assessments included a modified Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders (SCID) for current Major Depressive Episode, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and selected items adapted from the Global School-Based Health Survey mental health module. Diagnostic assignments of major depressive episode (MDE) were based on modified SCID interviews. Results The ZLDSI demonstrated good overall accuracy in identifying current MDE (Area under the Curve = .92, 95% CI = .86, .98, p < .001). We ascertained ≥12 as the optimal cut-off point to screen for depression with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 73.9%. In addition, the ZLDSI was associated with other measures of depressive symptoms, suggesting that it demonstrates construct validity. Conclusions Study findings support that the ZLDSI has clinical utility for screening for depression among school-going transitional age youth.
    • A weak health response is increasing the risk of excess mortality as food crisis worsens in Somalia

      Andrew Seal; Francesco Checchi; Nancy Balfour; Abdi-Rashid Haji Nur; Mohamed Jelle (BioMed Central, 2017-07-01)
    • Access to care for non-communicable diseases in Mosul, Iraq between 2014 and 2017: a rapid qualitative study

      Louisa M. Baxter; Manal Shams Eldin; Ali Al Mohammed; Malika Saim; Francesco Checchi (BMC, 2018-12-01)
      Abstract During June 2014 to April 2017, the population of Mosul, Iraq lived in a state of increasing isolation from the rest of Iraq due to the city’s occupation by the Islamic State group. As part of a study to develop a generalisable method for estimating the excess burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in conflict-affected settings, in April–May 2017 we conducted a brief qualitative study of self-reported care for NCDs among 15 adult patients who had fled Mosul and presented to Médecins Sans Frontières clinics in the Kurdistan region with hypertension and/or diabetes. Participants reported consistent barriers to NCD care during the so-called Islamic State period, including drug shortages, insecurity and inability to afford privately sold medication. Coping strategies included drug rationing. By 2016, all patients had completely or partially lost access to care. Though limited, this study suggests a profound effect of the conflict on NCD burden.
    • Accountability strategies for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in humanitarian settings: a scoping review

      Marta Schaaf; Victoria Boydell; Mallory C. Sheff; Christina Kay; Fatemeh Torabi; Rajat Khosla (BMC, 2020-04-01)
      Abstract Background Many of the 35 million women and girls aged 15–49 requiring humanitarian assistance have inadequate access to the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to which they are entitled. Ensuring accountability is critical to realizing their SRH and reproductive rights (RR). Objectives This scoping review examines the extent and nature of existing evidence on accountability strategies for SRH in humanitarian settings in different geographical scopes/contexts, and contextualizes these findings in the larger thematic literature. This review seeks to answer the following questions: What accountability strategies are employed to address the availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of SRH in humanitarian settings? What do we know about the successes and challenges of the given strategies? What are the implications for practice? Methods We consulted public health, social science, and legal databases including SCOPUS, PubMed, ProQuest, and LexisNexis for peer-reviewed articles, as well as Google Advanced search for grey literature; the search was conducted in March 2019. We searched for relevant articles and documents relating to accountability, humanitarian, and SRH and/or RR. To identify key challenges not reflected in the literature and additional grey literature, 18 key informants from international NGOs, local government bodies, academia, and donor agencies were interviewed from March–June 2019. Results A total of 209 papers and documents were identified via our literature searches and interviews for review. We identified three categories of approaches to accountability in our background reading, and we then applied these to the papers reviewed a priori. We created a fourth category based on our findings. The categories include: (1) humanitarian principles, codes of conduct, and legal instruments; (2) technical, performance, and impact standards; (3) efforts to solicit and address the rights and needs of the affected populations, or “listening and responding,” and, (4) accountability demands made by affected populations themselves. Almost all papers identified referred to challenges to realizing accountability in humanitarian contexts. There are promising accountability approaches – some specific to SRH and some not - such as open-ended feedback from affected populations, quality improvement, and practical application of standards. Reflecting a largely top down orientation, papers concentrate on accountability mechanisms within humanitarian work, with much less focus on supporting affected populations to deepen their understanding of structural causes of their position, understand their entitlements, or access justice. Conclusion In the last 20 years, there has been increasing standard and guideline development and program experiences related to accountability in humanitarian settings. Yet, the emphasis is on tools or mechanisms for accountability with less attention to changing norms regarding SRH and RR within affected communities, and to a lesser extent, among implementers of humanitarian programs or to institutionalizing community participation.
    • Adaptation and testing of an assessment for mental health and alcohol use problems among conflict-affected adults in Ukraine

      S. Benjamin Doty; Emily E. Haroz; Namrita S. Singh; Sergiy Bogdanov; Judith K. Bass; Laura K. Murray; Karis L. Callaway; Paul A. Bolton (BioMed Central, 2018-08-01)
      Abstract Background In Ukraine, a large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and veterans experience social and psychological problems as a result of the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Our purpose was to develop reliable and valid instruments to screen for common mental health and alcohol use problems in these populations. Methods We used a three-step process of instrument adaptation and testing. The instrument—the Mental Health Assessment Inventory (MHAI)—combines adapted standard screeners with items derived locally in Ukraine. A validity study was conducted using a sample of 153 adults (54% male) ages 18 years and older. All participants in the sample were IDPs or veterans living in or near the major urban areas of Kyiv and Zaporizhia. Reliability testing (internal consistency, test-retest) and validity testing (construct, criterion) of the MHAI were conducted using classical test theory. After initial testing, we used Item Response Theory (IRT) to shorten and further refine the instrument. Results The MHAI showed good internal consistency and test-retest reliability for the main outcomes: depression (α = 0.94; r = .84), post-traumatic stress (PTS; α = 0.97; r = 0.87), anxiety (α = 0.90; r = 0.80), and alcohol use (α = 0.86; r = 0.91). There was good evidence of convergent construct validity among the scales for depression, PTS, and anxiety, but not for alcohol use. Item Response Theory (IRT) analysis supported use of shortened versions of the scales for depression, PTS, and anxiety, as they retained comparable psychometric properties to the full scales of the MHAI. Conclusion The findings support the reliability and validity of the assessment—the MHAI—for screening of common mental health problems among Ukrainian IDPs and veterans. Use of IRT shortened the instrument to improve practicality and potential sustainability.
    • Addressing culture and context in humanitarian response: preparing desk reviews to inform mental health and psychosocial support

      M. Claire Greene; Mark J. D. Jordans; Brandon A. Kohrt; Peter Ventevogel; Laurence J. Kirmayer; Ghayda Hassan; Anna Chiumento; Mark van Ommeren; Wietse A. Tol (BMC, 2017-11-01)
      Abstract Delivery of effective mental health and psychosocial support programs requires knowledge of existing health systems and socio-cultural context. To respond rapidly to humanitarian emergencies, international organizations often seek to design programs according to international guidelines and mobilize external human resources to manage and deliver programs. Familiarizing international humanitarian practitioners with local culture and contextualizing programs is essential to minimize risk of harm, maximize benefit, and optimize efficient use of resources. Timely literature reviews on traditional health practices, cultural beliefs and attitudes toward mental health and illness, local health care systems and previous experiences with humanitarian interventions can provide international practitioners with crucial background information to improve their capacity to work efficiently and with maximum benefit. In this paper, we draw on experience implementing desk review guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency (2012) in four diverse humanitarian crises (earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal; forced displacement among Syrians and Congolese). We discuss critical parameters for the design and implementation of desk reviews, and discuss current challenges and future directions to improve mental health care and psychosocial support in humanitarian emergencies.
    • Addressing noncommunicable diseases among urban refugees in the Middle East and North Africa - a scoping review

      Zahirah Z. McNatt (BMC, 2020-02-01)
      Abstract Background More than 5.5 million Syrian refugees have fled violence and settled in mostly urban environments in neighboring countries. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region accounts for 6% of the global population but 25% of the population are ‘of concern’ to the UN Refugee Agency. In addition to large amounts of forced migration, the region is also undergoing an epidemiologic transition towards a heavier burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which in 2018 accounted for 74% of all deaths in the region. To address NCD needs globally, a myriad of policies and interventions have been implemented in low-income stable country settings. However, little is known about which policies and interventions are currently being implemented or are best suited for refugee hosting countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Methods A scoping review of peer-reviewed literature was conducted to identify policies and interventions implemented in the Middle East and North Africa to address the needs of urban refugees with noncommunicable diseases. Results This scoping review identified 11 studies from Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, West Bank, Gaza and Syria. These studies addressed three foci of extant work, (1) innovative financing for expensive treatments, (2) improvements to access and quality of treatment and, (3) efforts to prevent new diagnoses and secondary complications. All interventions targeted refugee populations including Palestinians, Sudanese, Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis. Discussion The scoping review highlighted five key findings. First, very few studies focused on the prevention of noncommunicable diseases among displaced populations. Second, several interventions made use of health information technologies, including electronic medical records and mHealth applications for patients. Third, the vast majority of publications were solely focused on tackling NCDs through primary care efforts. Fourth, the literature was very sparse in regard to national policy development, and instead favored interventions by NGOs and UN agencies. Last, the perspectives of refugees were notably absent. Conclusion Opportunities exist to prioritize prevention efforts, scale up eHealth interventions, expand access to secondary and tertiary services, address the scarcity of research on national policy, and incorporate the perspectives of affected persons in the broader discourse.