• A call to safeguard sexual and reproductive health information and services during Ebola outbreaks

      Nguyen Toan Tran; Désirée Lichtenstein; Benjamin Black; Alice Rosmini; Catrin Schulte-Hillen (BMC, 2021-07-01)
      Abstract The recent Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks in 2021 exemplify how sexual and reproductive health services are too often considered unessential during health emergencies. Bleeding for reasons other than EVD, such as pregnancy complications or rape, can be construed as EVD symptoms, reinforcing fear and stigmatisation, and delaying timely access to adequate care. In this commentary, we urgently call on all humanitarian actors to integrate the Minimum Initial Services Package for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Crisis Situations into current and future EVD preparedness and response efforts.
    • A case analysis of partnered research on palliative care for refugees in Jordan and Rwanda

      Sonya de Laat; Olive Wahoush; Rania Jaber; Wejdan Khater; Emmanuel Musoni; Ibraheem Abu Siam; Lisa Schwartz; the Humanitarian Health Ethics Research Group (BMC, 2021-01-01)
      Abstract Background This case analysis describes dilemmas and challenges of ethical partnering encountered in the process of conducting a research study that explored moral and practical dimensions of palliative care in humanitarian crisis settings. Two contexts are the focus of this case analysis: Jordan, an acute conflict-induced refugee situation, and Rwanda, a protracted conflict-induced refugee setting. The study’s main goal was to better understand ways humanitarian organizations and health care providers might best support ethically and contextually appropriate palliative care in humanitarian contexts. An unintended outcome of the research was learning lessons about ethical dimensions of transnational research partnerships, which is the focus of this case analysis. Discussion There exist ongoing challenges for international collaborative research in humanitarian conflict-induced settings. Research partnerships were crucial for connecting with key stakeholders associated with the full study (e.g., refugees with life limiting illness, local healthcare providers, aid organization representatives). While important relationships were established, obstacles limited our abilities to fully attain the type of mutual partnership we aimed for. Unique challenges faced during the research included: (a) building, nurturing and sustaining respectful and equitable research partnerships between collaborators in contexts of cultural difference and global inequality; (b) appropriate ethics review and challenges of responding to local decision-maker’s research needs; and (c) equity and fairness towards vulnerable populations. Research strategies were adapted and applied to respond to these challenges with a specific focus on (d) research rewards and restitution. Conclusions This case analysis sheds light on the importance of understanding cultural norms in all research roles, building relationships with decision makers, and developing teams that include researchers from within humanitarian crisis settings to ensure that mutually beneficial research outcomes are ethical as well as culturally and contextually relevant.
    • 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 graphic elicitation technique to represent patient rights

      Catherine R. McGowan; Nora Hellman; Louisa Baxter; Sonali Chakma; Samchun Nahar; Ahasan Ud Daula; Kelly Rowe; Josie Gilday; Patricia Kingori; Rachel Pounds (BMC, 2020-12-01)
      Abstract Background A patient charter is an explicit declaration of the rights of patients within a particular health care setting. In early 2020 the Save the Children Emergency Health Unit deployed to Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh to support the establishment of a severe acute respiratory infection isolation and treatment centre as part of the COVID-19 response. We developed a charter of patient rights and had it translated into Bangla and Burmese; however, the charter remained inaccessible to Rohingya and members of the host community with low literacy. Methods To both visualise and contextualise the patient charter we undertook a graphic elicitation method involving both the Rohingya and host communities. We carried out two focus group discussions during which we discussed the charter and agreed how best to illustrate the individual rights contained therein. Results Logistical constraints and infection prevention and control procedures limited our ability to follow up with the original focus group participants and to engage in back-translation as we had planned; however, we were able to elicit rich descriptions of each right. Reflecting on our method we were able to identify several key learnings relating to: 1) our technique for eliciting feedback on the charter verbatim versus a broader discussion of concepts referenced within each right, 2) our decision to include both men and women in the same focus group, 3) our decision to ask focus group participants to describe specific features of each illustration and how this benefited the inclusivity of our illustrations, and 4) the potential of the focus groups to act as a means to introduce the charter to communities. Conclusions Though executing our method was operationally challenging we were able to create culturally appropriate illustrations to accompany our patient charter. In contexts of limited literacy it is possible to enable access to critical clinical governance and accountability tools.
    • A mathematical model to estimate the incidence of child wasting in Yemen

      Rana A. Hussein; Mark P. Suprenant; Najwa Al-Dheeb; Saul Guerrero; Eleanor Rogers; Fouzia Shafique; Meredith Dyson; Muhammad H. Zaman (BMC, 2021-08-01)
      Abstract Introduction The ongoing civil war in Yemen has severely restricted imports of food and fuel, disrupted livelihoods and displaced millions, worsening already high pre-war levels of food insecurity. Paired with frequent outbreaks of disease and a collapsed health system, this has brought rates of wasting in children under five to the country’s highest recorded levels, which continue to increase as the crisis worsens and aid becomes increasingly limited. In their planning of services to treat and prevent wasting in children, humanitarian agencies rely on a standard calculation to estimate the expected number of cases for the coming year, where incidence is estimated from prevalence and the average duration of an episode of wasting. The average duration of an episode of moderate and severe wasting is currently estimated at 7.5 months—a globally-used value derived from historical cohort studies. Given that incidence varies considerably by context—where food production and availability, treatment coverage and disease rates all vary—a single estimate cannot be applied to all contexts, and especially not a highly unstable crisis setting such as Yemen. While recent studies have aimed to derive context-specific incidence estimates in several countries, little has been done to estimate the incidence of both moderate and severe wasting in Yemen. Methods In order to provide context-specific estimates of the average duration of an episode, and resultingly, incidence correction factors for moderate and severe wasting, we have developed a Markov model. Model inputs were estimated using a combination of treatment admission and outcome records compiled by the Yemen Nutrition Cluster, 2018 and 2019 SMART surveys, and other estimates from the literature. The model derived estimates for the governorate of Lahj, Yemen; it was initialized using August 2018 SMART survey prevalence data and run until October 2019—the date of the subsequent SMART survey. Using a process of repeated model calibration, the incidence correction factors for severe wasting and moderate wasting were found, validating the resulting prevalence against the recorded value from the 2019 SMART survey. Results The average durations of an episode of moderate and severe wasting were estimated at 4.86 months, for an incidence correction factor k of 2.59, and 3.86 months, for an incidence correction factor k of 3.11, respectively. It was found that the annual caseload of moderate wasting was 36% higher and the annual caseload of severe wasting 58% higher than the originally-assumed values, estimated with k = 1.6. Conclusion The model-derived incidence rates, consistent with findings from other contexts that a global incidence correction factor cannot be sufficient, allow for improved, context-specific estimates of the burden of wasting in Yemen. In crisis settings such as Yemen where funding and resources are extremely limited, the model’s outputs holistically capture the burden of wasting in a way that may guide effective decision-making and may help ensure that limited resources are allocated most effectively.
    • A mediation analysis of the role of girl child marriage in the relationship between proximity to conflict and past-year intimate partner violence in post-conflict Sri Lanka

      Ruvani W. Fonseka; Lotus McDougal; Anita Raj; Elizabeth Reed; Rebecka Lundgren; Lianne Urada; Jay G. Silverman (BMC, 2022-02-01)
      Abstract Background Studies from many contexts indicate that proximity to conflict is associated with increased likelihood of intimate partner violence (IPV), and girl child marriage is associated with both proximity to conflict and increased IPV. In this study, we consider whether girl child marriage acts as a mediator of the association between proximity to conflict and IPV in the context of Sri Lanka, which sustained long-term conflict until 2009. Methods We analyzed responses of currently partnered women between ages 18 and 49 in the 2016 Sri Lankan Demographic and Health Survey (N = 13,691). Using logistic regression analyses, we measured associations between proximity to conflict (residence in districts which were central, proximal, or distal to the regions where the war occurred) and the outcomes of IPV and girl child marriage, and secondarily assessed girl child marriage as a possible mediator of the association between proximity to conflict and past year IPV. Results Women residing in districts central to conflict, as compared to districts distal to conflict, had increased odds of past year sexual, physical, and emotional IPV, with the odds of sexual IPV increasing the most (adjusted odds ratio/aOR 4.19, 95% confidence interval/CI 2.08–8.41). Residing in districts proximal to conflict compared to those distal to conflict was associated with lower odds of past year physical and emotional IPV, with the greatest decrease in emotional IPV (aOR 0.31, CI 0.18–0.54). Girl child marriage was more likely in districts central to conflict as opposed to those distal to conflict (aOR 1.89, CI 1.22–2.93), and partially mediated the relationship between centrality to conflict and IPV. Conclusions Our findings demonstrate that residing in districts central to conflict compared to those distal to conflict is associated with greater odds of IPV and girl child marriage in post-conflict Sri Lanka, with girl child marriage partially mediating the association between centrality to conflict and IPV. Residence in districts proximal to conflict appears protective against IPV. Future research should investigate what factors are responsible for decreased IPV in districts proximal to violence, and whether these factors can be reproduced to mitigate the increased prevalence of IPV in districts central to conflict.
    • A mixed methods study to assess the impact of COVID-19 on maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition in fragile and conflict-affected settings

      Mariana Rodo; Lucy Singh; Neal Russell; Neha S. Singh (BMC, 2022-06-01)
      Abstract Background The impacts of COVID-19 are unprecedented globally. The pandemic is reversing decades of progress in maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition (MNCHN), especially fragile and conflict-affected settings (FCAS) whose populations were already facing challenges in accessing basic health and nutrition services. This study aimed to investigate the collateral impact of COVID-19 on funding, services and MNCHN outcomes in FCAS, as well as adaptations used in the field to continue activities. Methods A scoping review of peer-reviewed and grey literature published between 1st March 2020–31st January 2021 was conducted. We analysed 103 publications using a narrative synthesis approach. 39 remote semi-structured key informant interviews with humanitarian actors and donor staff within 12 FCAS were conducted between October 2020 and February 2021. Thematic analysis was undertaken independently by two researchers on interview transcripts and supporting documents provided by key informants, and triangulated with literature review findings. Results Funding for MNCHN has been reduced or suspended with increase in cost of continuing the same activities, and diversion of MNCHN funding to COVID-19 activities. Disruption in supply and demand of interventions was reported across different settings which, despite data evidence still being missing, points towards likely increased maternal and child morbidity and mortality. Some positive adaptations including use of technology and decentralisation of services have been reported, however overall adaptation strategies have been insufficient to equitably meet additional challenges posed by the pandemic, and have not been evaluated for their effectiveness. Conclusions COVID-19 is further exacerbating negative women’s and children’s health outcomes in FCAS. Increased funding is urgently required to re-establish MNCHN activities which have been deprioritised or halted. Improved planning to sustain routine health services and enable surge planning for emergencies with focus on the community/service users throughout adaptations is vital for improved MNCHN outcomes in FCAS.
    • A predictive model for healthcare coverage in Yemen

      Mark P. Suprenant; Anuraag Gopaluni; Meredith K. Dyson; Najwa Al-Dheeb; Fouzia Shafique; Muhammad H. Zaman (BMC, 2020-08-01)
      Abstract Introduction The ongoing war in Yemen continues to pose challenges for healthcare coverage in the country especially with regards to critical gaps in information systems needed for planning and delivering health services. Restricted access to social services including safe drinking water and sanitation systems have likely led to an increase in the spread of diarrheal diseases which remains one of greatest sources of mortality in children under 5 years old. To overcome morbidity and mortality from diarrheal diseases among children in the context of severe information shortages, a predictive model is needed to determine the burden of diarrheal disease on Yemeni children and their ability to reach curative health services through an estimate of healthcare coverage. This will allow for national and local health authorities and humanitarian partners to make better informed decisions for planning and providing health care services. Methods A probabilistic Markov model was developed based on an analysis of Yemen’s health facilities’ clinical register data provided by UNICEF. The model combines this health system data with environmental and conflict-related factors such as the destruction of infrastructure (roads and health facilities) to fill in gaps in population-level data on the burden of diarrheal diseases on children under five, and the coverage rate of the under-five sick population with treatment services at primary care facilities. The model also provides estimates of the incidence rate, and treatment outcomes including treatment efficacy and mortality rate. Results By using alternatives to traditional healthcare data, the model was able to recreate the observed trends in treatment with no significant difference compared to provided validation data. Once validated, the model was used to predict the percent of sick children with diarrhea who were able to reach, and thus receive, treatment services (coverage rate) for 2019 which ranged between an average weekly minimum of 1.73% around the 28th week of the year to a weekly maximum coverage of just over 5% around the new year. These predictions can be translated into policy decisions such as when increased efforts are needed to reach children and what type of service delivery modalities may be the most effective. Conclusion The model developed and presented in this manuscript shows a seasonal trend in the spread of diarrheal disease in children under five living in Yemen through a novel incorporation of weather, infrastructure and conflict parameters in the model. Our model also provides new information on the number of children seeking treatment and how this is influenced by the ongoing conflict. Despite the work of the national and local health authorities with the support of aid organizations, during the mid-year rains up to 98% of children with diarrhea are unable to receive treatment services. Thus, it is recommended that community outreach or other delivery modalities through which services are delivered in closer proximity to those in need should be scaled up prior to and during these periods. This would serve to increase number of children able to receive treatment by lessening the prohibitive travel burden, or access constraint, on families during these times.
    • 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 qualitative study on health care providers’ experiences of providing comprehensive abortion care in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

      Maria Persson; Elin C. Larsson; Noor Pappu Islam; Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson; Marie Klingberg-Allvin (BMC, 2021-01-01)
      Abstract Background Humanitarian settings are characterised by limited access to comprehensive abortion care. At the same time, humanitarian settings can increase the vulnerability of women and girls to unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Humanitarian actors and health care providers can play important roles in ensuring the availability and accessibility of abortion-related care. This study explores health care providers’ perceptions and experiences of providing comprehensive abortion care in a humanitarian setting in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and identifies barriers and facilitators in service provision. Method In-depth interviews (n = 24) were conducted with health care providers (n = 19) providing comprehensive abortion care to Rohingya refugee women and with key informants (n = 5), who were employed by an organisation involved in the humanitarian response. Data were analysed using an inductive content analysis approach. Results The national menstrual regulation policy provided a favourable legal environment and facilitated the provision of comprehensive abortion care, while the Mexico City policy created organisational barriers since it made organisations unable or unwilling to provide the full comprehensive abortion care package. Supplies were available, but a lack of space created a barrier to service provision. Although training from organisations had made the health care providers confident and competent and had facilitated the provision of services, their knowledge of the national abortion law and menstrual regulation policy was limited and created a barrier to comprehensive abortion services. Even though the health care providers were willing to provide comprehensive abortion care and had acquired skills and applied strategies to communicate with and provide care to Rohingya women, their personal beliefs and their perceptions of Rohingya women influenced their provision of care. Conclusion The availability and accessibility of comprehensive abortion care was limited by unfavourable abortion policies, a lack of privacy, a lack of knowledge of abortion laws and policies, health care providers’ personal beliefs and a lack of cultural safety. To ensure the accessibility and availability of quality services, a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights is needed. Organisations must ensure that health care providers have knowledge of abortion policies and the ability to provide quality care that is woman-centred and non-judgmental.
    • 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 social ecological approach to understanding service utilization barriers among male survivors of sexual violence in three refugee settings: a qualitative exploratory study

      Sarah K. Chynoweth; Dale Buscher; Sarah Martin; Anthony B. Zwi (BMC, 2020-07-01)
      Abstract Background Post-sexual violence service utilization is often poor in humanitarian settings. Little is known about the service uptake barriers facing male survivors specifically. Methods To gain insights into this knowledge gap, we undertook a qualitative exploratory study to better understand the barriers to service utilization among male survivors in three refugee-hosting countries. The study sites and populations included refugees who had travelled the central Mediterranean migration route through Libya living in Rome and Sicily, Italy; Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh; and refugees from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and South Sudan residing in urban areas of Kenya. Methods included document review, 55 semi-structured focus group discussions with 310 refugees, semi-structured key informant interviews with 148 aid workers and human rights experts, and observation of service delivery points. Data were thematically analyzed using NVivo 12. Results We identified eleven key barriers and situated them within a social ecological framework to describe impediments at the policy, community (inter-organizational), organizational, interpersonal, and individual levels. Barriers entailed: 1) restrictions to accessing legal protection, 2) legislative barriers such as the criminalization of same-sex sexual relations, 3) few designated entry points, 4) poor or nonexistent referral systems, 5) lack of community awareness-raising and engagement, 6) limited staff capacity, 7) negative provider attitudes and practices, 8) social stigma, 9) limited knowledge (at the individual level), 10) self-stigma, and 11) low formal help-seeking behaviors. Conclusion The social ecological framework allowed us to better understand the multifaceted ways that the barriers facing male survivors operate and reinforce one another, and may be useful to inform efforts promoting service uptake. Additional research is warranted in other refugee settings.