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As part of the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, our Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme will host an online panel discussion exploring how health systems can effectively deliver public health responses to COVID-19 which meet the needs of refugees and internally displaced people (IDP).

The panel discussion will take place starting 4:05PM (GST) on 9 November 2020 and will be chaired by Dr Fouad M. Fouad, Associate Professor of Public Health Practice, Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. Dr Fouad also serves as a member in our R2HC Funding Committee.


An unprecedented 79.5 million people globally were displaced as of the end of 2019. Increasingly, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) are hosted by countries with few domestic resources, putting additional strain on fragile and under-resourced health systems. Anticipating the potentially devastating effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in March 2020 Elrha launched a call for responsive research proposals through the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme. These studies will deliver evidence to meet the needs of operational actors and policymakers who are tackling the challenge of adapting health systems and COVID-19 public health service delivery.

This interactive panel discussion will share unique first-hand learning and provide real-world examples of lessons learned from Colombia, Lebanon and Palestine, identifying relevant insights and solutions for wider contexts.

Conducted in partnership with local policymakers and practitioners, each study measures public policy effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 whilst also exploring specific approaches to strengthen health systems.

Speakers include:

  • Dr Akihiro Seita, Director of Health Programme (HP), United Nations Relief and Works Agency
  • Dr Arturo Harker Roa, Associate Professor at the School of Government, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
  • Dr Karin Diaconu, Research Fellow, The Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen Margaret University, UK

“The resilience of health systems is increasingly being studied, however until now there has been limited emphasis on understanding how resilience relates to community trust in systems and inclusive, effective and equitable service delivery and crisis response.” – Dr Karin Diaconu, Panelist

About our featured research studies

Health system and community responses to COVID-19 among Palestinian refugees in Gaza and Lebanon

This research study explores the resilience of UNRWA health systems, and health and social care workers, as well as Palestine refugees living in crowded settlements in Gaza and Lebanon, in the context of COVID-19.

Strengthening the humanitarian response to COVID-19 in Colombia

This research study aims to understand the adherence to public health and social distancing policies across 60 Colombian municipalities as well as measure health care utilisation and costs among Venezuelan migrant refugees and Colombian citizens in the same municipalities throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

You can find out more about the 15 new humanitarian health research studies we funded as part of our COVID-19 Responsive Funding Call, here.

About the Global Symposium on Healthcare Systems Research

The Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research will bring together over 2,000 policy-makers, practitioners and researchers from more than 100 countries to explore how we can build health systems which improve people’s health and are socially just.

You can find out more about the Global Symposium, here.

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