American University of Beirut

GHI partners in addressing chronic and mental health diseases in fragile settings

Communications Office,

The Global Health Institute (GHI) at AUB, in partnership with Queen Margaret University (QMU) and the College of Medical and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), hosted stakeholder meetings on non-communicable diseases, and mental health and psychosocial support, in fragile settings: the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. 

These stakeholder meetings are part of the Research Unit on Health in Situations of Fragility (RUHF) of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the largest national clinical research funder in Europe that offers a focused source of funding for researchers to improve patient health and care. Composed of the three partner institutions, RUHF seeks to identify sources of resilience within formal health systems and local community processes to facilitate effective provisions for health priorities in fragile situations. 

The meetings mark the culmination of the initial phase of RUHF’s work in Lebanon, which aims to provide the evidential basis for the focus on particular health issues, contexts, interventions, and challenges associated with mental health and chronic disease service delivery.
The first RUHF stakeholder meetings in Lebanon gathered researchers from QMU and AUB, academics, policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and the Ministry of Public Health to discuss and validate research findings targeting mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), and the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) of Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon.

“The influx of refugees has contributed to the fragility of health provision in Lebanon” said Dr. Shadi Saleh, founding director of GHI. “We are working together with QMU and COMAHS in a four-year project to prevent and manage chronic diseases and mental health disorders in fragile contexts.”

“It has been so encouraging to see such strong engagement from the Ministry of Health and non-governmental organizations in reflecting on how we can provide services more effectively in challenge context and fragility,” said Dr. Alastair Ager, director of the Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD) and RUHF. 

The GHI research teams, led by Dr. Farah Naja, from AUB’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, and Dr. Lillian Ghandour, from the Faculty of Health Sciences, conducted two scoping studies on NCDs and MHPSS among Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon and presented an analysis of elements of fragility within the Lebanese health system.

The meeting included forum discussions to identify contextualized interventions to cope with MHPSS and NCDs. Participants emphasized the importance of an effective coordination between organizations and stakeholders to help reduce the incidence of NCDs and the burden of mental health illnesses.  

The stakeholder meetings concluded by identifying strategic actions to strengthen the access, coverage, quality, and accountability of MHPSS and NCD services in Lebanon, which will be assessed and evaluated in the second phase of the NIHR project.
The Global Health Institute works closely with regional and international partners to better serve the health needs of the population in the Middle East and North Africa region, the Global South, and beyond.

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