Dr. Tamar Kabakian-Khasholian, Associate Professor at the Department of Health Promotion and Community Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) participated in a two-day meeting organized by the World Health Organization's (WHO) Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health on “Defining global research priorities: Social, behavioral and community engagement (SBCE) interventions for maternal, newborn and child health".
The meeting was held in Versoix-Switzerland, on 24-25 July 2018, bringing together around 30 academics and representatives from international NGOs, UN agencies, as well as research and funding institutions with the aim of setting global research priorities for SBCE interventions in maternal, newborn and child health.
Dr. Kabakian-Khasholian was assigned as the maternal health working group leader, contributing with her extensive experience in this field. The group held a number of online preparatory meetings before convening for the general meeting in Switzerland. Outputs were based on data derived from a global priority setting exercise undertaken by WHO during the last few years. “It was quite challenging to work with the data and to consider the perspectives of different groups portrayed there and at the same time considering the available evidence and the global needs. We hope the report is published soon because it will highlight the areas prioritized for research globally in this field".
During the meeting, participants finalized the research priorities for SBCE interventions across maternal, newborn and child health, as well as priorities across the continuum, based on the SBCE global research priority setting exercise. Participants also discussed next steps, including the processes and methods to support countries in establishing SBCE research priorities, donors' engagement, publications and products for dissemination, and stakeholder uptake of the priorities.
SBCE interventions aim to address the capabilities of individuals, families, communities and health providers to better identify and respond to health needs. Such interventions are considered fundamental to realizing improved health and well-being for women, children and adolescents. They include interpersonal communication and health education activities, delivery of health messages, engagement through mass and social media, addressing financial barriers (including cash transfers) and formalizing community participation in health planning and programming. Throughout the past years, WHO has provided global guidance on some key SBCE interventions, attributed increasing importance to its various elements, and prioritized research in this field.