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Dejen countryside. Credit: IDEAS/Paolo Patruno

COVID-19 Public Health Crises Research

Project funded by the CDC to conduct research among populations affected by crises in the context of COVID-19, focused on four countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

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About

We have formed a consortium of academic and civil society organisations, funded by the US Centers for Disease Control, who will work collaboratively and equitable to conduct research among crisis-affected and displaced populations in the context of COVID-19. This programme is a multi-disciplinary partnership, with LSHTM as the lead applicant, and partners in each of the research countries: the Université Catholique de Bukavu in DRC, SIMAD University in Somalia, the Bridge Network Organisation in South Sudan, and the Youth Peer Education Network (Y-Peer) in Sudan (who work under the umbrella of Adeela, a Sudanese civil society incubator NGO). Our partnership is committed to coproduction principles and will adopt a decolonial approach to research and humanitarian action.

Capacity strengthening

This programme of research and capacity strengthening runs from February 2022 to September 2026, focused on four key crisis-affected countries (the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan), but with flexibility to conduct data collection in new emergencies and other settings where existing collaborations facilitate this.

About
About CDC COVID-19 Humanitarian 2 columns
About CDC COVID-19 Humanitarian 2 columns left paragraph
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Crises due to armed conflicts, natural disasters and food insecurity result in excess mortality and mental health problems, especially when people are forcibly displaced. Public health information plays a potentially key role in informing resource allocation and the design and implementation of humanitarian responses. Epidemics are a particular threat in crisis settings and create specific information requirements. The COVID-19 pandemic’s health impact in crisis-affected populations is mostly unclear due to inadequate testing and surveillance for SARS-CoV-2, stigma and other societal factors, and limited measurement of the indirect effects of control measures on various thematic areas, including sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable diseases and mental health, for which programmatic adaptations are warranted.

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of retrospective and prospective monitoring of mortality (already a common information gap in humanitarian responses) as a key metric of ultimate downstream impacts, and a basis for fitting realistic transmission dynamic models. COVID-19 control has also relied heavily on non-pharmaceutical interventions, including hygiene behaviour change, a historically underfunded area with outstanding evidence gaps to fill.  Addressing the above evidence challenges must contend with a dearth of methodological expertise, shrinking humanitarian and researcher access to affected populations, and a post-colonial architecture that disempowers local actors. Against these challenges, we identify key capacity-strengthening and methodological innovation opportunities.

We have formed a consortium of academic and civil society organisations, funded by the US Centers for Disease Control, that proposes to work collaboratively and equitable to conduct research among crisis-affected and displaced populations in the context of COVID-19. This programme is a multi-disciplinary partnership, with LSHTM as the lead applicant, and partners in each of the research countries:

Our partnership is committed to coproduction principles and will adopt a decolonial approach to research and humanitarian action.

Research and capacity strengthening
Research and capacity strengthening CDC COVID-19 Humanitarian 2 columns
Research and capacity strengthening CDC COVID-19 Humanitarian 2 columns left paragraph
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This programme of research and capacity strengthening runs from February 2022 to September 2026, focused on four key crisis-affected countries (the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan), but with flexibility to conduct data collection in new emergencies and other settings where existing collaborations facilitate this. This programme activities and studies are organised along three aims:

Aim 1: Establish or strengthen country-based, locally-led, multi-disciplinary humanitarian public health research units in the four key countries.

Aim 2: Explore novel cross-cutting methods based on community-led surveillance and data science methods.

Aim 3: Generate thematic evidence on the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 and other emergent public health threats, as per the following scientific objectives:

  1. Generate improved all-cause and cause-specific mortality estimates.
  2. Quantify transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and other epidemic infections.
  3. Explore changes to hygiene behaviours, improve monitoring of hygiene behaviours and evaluate alternative behaviour change interventions.
  4. Quantify and describe COVID-19’s secondary impacts on sexual and reproductive health.
  5. Quantify COVID-19’s impacts on non-communicable disease burden and mental health and test novel care models.