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Sudan COVID-19 Research Group

The Challenge

Sudan is bearing the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic against a backdrop of an escalating economic crisis, record flooding, communicable disease outbreaks, refugee influx and internal conflict. Modelling estimates predict that in an unmitigated scenario, one year after initial introduction, could have 11-14 million symptomatic infections, 760 thousand hospitalizations, and 100-150,000 deaths. 

Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic volunteer organizations have served as the first responders providing both direct support to those needing to stay at home or self-isolating as well as campaigns to promote behaviour change. There is an urgent need to understand how to maximize their impact, especially among communities impacted by humanitarian crisis.  This is by understanding not only the acceptability and feasibility of strategies widely used in high income countries (e.g., lockdowns) but also by synthesising local adaptations and innovations that are most appropriate in a Sudanese context.

The Collaboration

The Sudan Research group (SRG) is a collaboration between Sudan Y-PEER programme, a network of 10,000 youth community volunteers living and working in diverse communities across Sudan, and a multidisciplinary group of humanitarian and public health academics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Khartoum, and Sudan’s Public Health Institute.

We also collaborate with various of iNGOs and Sudanese civil society organisations involved in COVID-19 mitigation in Sudan. The current research and advocacy collaboration is implemented with support from UK Aid.

Research and Advocacy

The aim of the group’s work is to support evidence-based community led COVID-19 decision making and prioritisation in the localities participating in research activities, as below: 

  1. Conduct a set of community qualitative research studies to understand which set of prevention activities, both within and outside households, are most acceptable and feasible in a Sudanese context.  This information will be used to develop and implement a Y-peer multimedia campaign as well as a community consultation decision making tool that enables communities to adapt and innovate COVID-19 strategies at the most local level
  2. Conduct quantitative surveys that measure the changing levels of social mixing, COVID-19 infections and deaths throughout the epidemic.

In 2019, members of our group were part of a study that explored the Deaths, injuries and detentions during civil demonstrations in Sudan.  Since last year, the research group, through a grant from UK Aid, has been working on a five research studies as part of the  Community-led COVID-19 mitigation in Sudan project.  So far, we have developed various policy briefs translating research findings to policy makers and communities alike, co-published  Sudan specific mathematical modelling on the COVID-19 mortality impact and trajectory of the epidemic, as well as our teams research into realistic interventions for COVID-19 mitigation in low-income settings. The advocacy policy briefs[1]  have supported the design of the national COVID-19 campaign and in the content of a COVID-19 awareness drama series  presented by the Sudanese Federal Ministry of Health. With the support of Sudan Y-peer volunteers, several COVID-19 awareness campaigns were run in six states.

The policy briefs have been presented to and discussed with the main decision-making bodies and stakeholders working on COVID-19 in Sudan.  This includes:

  • The Supreme Committee for Health Emergencies
  • The Federal Ministry of Health COVID-19 coordinating committee
  • 30+ international donors, iNGOs, and UN agencies currently operating in Sudan
  • Sudan Y-Peer network, CAFA

 


[1] Policy brief on COVID-19 lockdown exit strategies; Policy brief on the acceptability and feasibility of shielding in Sudanese contexts (both in English and Arabic); Policy brief on policy recommendations for the second wave of COVID-19 in Sudan

 

Devised into topic area, objectives, and proposed activities to research and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 countrywide. 

Meet the team

Team - Sudan COVID Research Group

Dr Nada Abdelmagid

Assistant Professor in Humanitarian Health Practice at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (nada.abdelmagid@lshtm.ac.uk)

Nada is a medical doctor and epidemiologist from Sudan with extensive experience in public health programming in humanitarian settings. Nada filled a variety of technical advisory and programmatic roles, supporting design, delivery and monitoring of health programmes in Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Turkey among other crises. 

In her current role at the LHSTM, Nada is the lead researcher for RECAP’s Work Stream 1. Her work involves developing and testing real-time auditing tools to measure the performance of humanitarian public health and nutrition responses. 

Nada holds a Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Science in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and is a member of the Global Health Cluster’s Public Health Information Services Task Team. She is currently undertaking her PhD at LSHTM.

Dr Maysoon Dahab

Assistant professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the LSHTM. (maysoon.Dahab@lshtm.ac.uk )

Maysoon is an infectious disease epidemiologist with the Conflict and Health Group at King’s College London. She has 19 years of experience leading the development and implementation of operational health research in low-income countries and especially in crises affected populations. She has worked previously with UNHCR, WHO, Save the Children USA, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and has consulted for various other organizations, including the Sudan Federal Ministry of Health, on operational health research in crises. She has also led research and advocacy efforts on mortality estimations during the most recent uprising In the Sudan. 

Ms Israa Zain Alabdeen 

National Coordinator of the Y-Peer network (israam163@gmail.com)

Israa is the national coordinator of the Y-Peer network. She is a consultant to UNFPA in its current COVID-19 response and is an MSc student at the University of Khartoum, Development and Research Studies Institute.

Mr Aljaile Ahmed 

Co-founder of the Sudan Y-PEER network (jalaxy4@gmail.com)

He is a regional master trainer/instructional designer for Y-PEER in the Middle East and North Africa. He is currently a MSc candidate in Sustainable Development at SOAS, University of London. Aljaile has extensive expertise in developing and implementing youth programs in several countries in the region, including how to incorporate young people’s inputs into policy and programming processes.

Dr Nazik Nurelhuda

Assistant Professor at the University of Khartoum (currently on secondment at the University of Toronto) (n.nurelhuda@gmail.com)

Nazik holds a PhD in Community Dentistry from the University of Bergen (Norway) and is a member of the Faculty of Public Health (Royal College of Physicians, UK) and Fellow of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research Institute (USA). She has a decade of working experience in public health practice and research and a demonstrated history of working in higher education, government sector, and the World Health Organization. Nazik was able to branch out in her career from dental public health to the promotion and protection of general human health.

Dr Salma Ahmed

Independent Researcher (jalaxy4@gmail.com)

Dr. Salma Ahmed is a public health professional and researcher from a medical background. She holds a MSc.  in Public and Tropical Health and a MPhil in International Health from the University of Oslo, Norway. She has worked with issues related to maternal and women health, HIV prevention, community-based interventions and research with several UN agencies, NGOs and Sudan Federal Ministry of Health. Dr. Ahmed has diverse research experience, and she is especially interested in qualitative research.

Rahaf Abu Koura

Research fellow with the Infectious Disease Epidemiology department at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (rahaf.abu-koura@lshtm.ac.uk )

Rahaf is a pharmacist and a public health professional from Syria with over 8 years of experience supporting the implementation and development of various health programmes and research focusing on crisis affected populations and humanitarian settings.

In her current role at the LHSTM, Rahaf is supporting community-led COVID-19 research and advocacy in Sudan.

Rahaf holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Leeds, and is a Chevening alumna, an antibiotics guardian and a strong believer in the power of kindness.