In collaboration with partner National Institutes of Health (NIH) centers and key external partner organizations, including the American University of Beirut (AUB), the Fogarty Center for Global Health Studies is leading a collaboration to convene researchers, humanitarian organizations and policymakers to share learning and strategies on how to conduct global health research in the context of humanitarian crises in low and middle income countries (LMICs). The project seeks to encourage more high-priority health research in humanitarian crises; increase collaboration between researchers and humanitarian organizations; and identify strategies to ensure optimal uptake of evidence into policy and practice in humanitarian crisis environments.
Within this project, a first workshop entitled “Advancing health research in humanitarian crises”, was held in 9-11 April in NIH Campus in the United States, bringing together experts and practitioners across disciplines, disease areas and geographies from research, humanitarian and policymaking communities, including representatives from LMICs, research institutions, U.S. government agencies, donor agencies and humanitarian organizations. Among the panelists, were Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Iman Nuwayhid and Professor Fouad Fouad.
During this three-day event, participants explored the various challenges facing research in LMICs, and the various ways to address them, benefiting from AUB’s FHS experience in this regard, as one among the most active research institutions in the region. In this event, Dean Nuwayhid shared his experience about the significance of health research in humanitarian crises, while he also elaborated on the challenges and research capacities that are available in this context. Dr. Fouad was mainly involved under the topic of how to include communities and affected populations in research.
While substantial progress has been made in improving the health of people LMICs, the progress is lagging in countries affected by humanitarian crises. Natural disasters affect nearly 160 million people each year, with a disproportionate effect on people in LMICs. Likewise, armed conflict affects more than 170 million people based on recent estimates. Children in LMICs affected by conflict are particularly vulnerable and are twice more likely to die before the age of five than children in similar but stable countries. More than 65 million people are forcibly displaced from their homes, the largest number since World War II. These crises cause severe health issues, as well as disruptions to health systems and access to food, water, sanitation, medicine and security.
More and better research is needed to understand the short- and long-term impact of such crises on health and well-being, and to inform governments, development agencies and humanitarian organizations on how best to respond to humanitarian crises, including acute emergencies, protracted crises and post-conflict reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.