New post-conflict health care projects launched

Health systems research has tended to neglect post-conflict settings. Credit: Flickr/Albert Gonzalez Farran

The global symposium saw the launch of at least two project grants, by the governments of UK and Norway, on Tuesday.

REBUILD, launched by the the UK’s Department for International Development, is all about research for building pro-poor health systems for recovery in conflict-torn African countries. The research consortium involves researchers in Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Health systems research has tended to neglect post-conflict settings and there are opportunities to set a pro-poor agenda in the immediate post-conflict period, says Barbara McPake,  director of the Institute for International Health Development at Queen Margaret University in the UK.

Good health systems research involves both qualitative and quantitative approaches, she said, and tries to examine a health intervention in the context in which it was initiated, responds to the intervention over a period of time – as it is difficult to “capture” an effect in a single time period – and involves multiple stake holders.

Abdul Gaffar, executive director of the WHO’s Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, tentatively announced seven projects to be given US$2.5 billion by the government of Norway each year for an anticipated five year period.  The governments of Canada and Sweden are also expected to contribute.

The countries selected for the projects are Burkina Faso, Guatemala, India, Kenya, the Middle East -represented by Egypt and Lebanon – Nepal and Uganda. The focus will be on scaling up health interventions on maternal and child health from small ‘block’ levels, typically a few dozen villages, to larger units of several hundred villages.

“Capturing the success stories and also correcting what is not working is important,” Gaffar told me after the launch. “The science of scaling up is not clearly understood.”

That seems to be one among several common woes in the sector.

T V Padma, South Asia Regional Coordinator, SciDev.Net

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