Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

A global organisation that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation..
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Attending the Global High-Level Technical Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases in Humanitarian Settings held at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of February, proved to be very insightful. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease are claiming the lives of  41 million people each year. 77% of these fatalities occur in Low and Middle Income countries.  The burden of such diseases in humanitarian crises is high, with NCDs contributing to as high as 92% of all deaths occurring in conflict-affected Ukraine.

This meeting has been years in the making, with the vibrant NCDs in emergencies community of researchers, practitioners, patient advocates and policy makers working together to get this critical issue on the agenda as a key priority for action in current and future crises.  Hosted by the governments of Denmark, Jordan and Kenya, the event featured speakers and participants from all over the world, including representatives from countries affected by ongoing humanitarian crises.  Key issues discussed included operational models for managing NCDs in crisis contexts, financing for scalability, the importance of universal health coverage, support to populations on the move living with NCDs and community involvement in decision-making processes.

One standout side-session was organised by World Health Organization and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, U. of London. Here, the outcomes of the research priority setting exercise Elrha funded was presented.  Our work aimed to identify what questions need answering to improve the care for one type of cardiovascular disease, cardio-metabolic syndrome, in emergency contexts.  The team who conducted this research, from the International Rescue Committee and the American University of Beirut, presented the hot-off-the-press findings, to wide interest from researchers and practitioners alike.

After the presentation, I joined the panel to share my views on the role of funders in advancing research agendas and translating research into practice (spoiler alert: part of the answer is supporting equitable partnerships).

As our research priority-setting exercise nears completion, we anticipate getting the findings published and launched in the next few months! Stay tuned for updates on the launch event and publication, and please do share it when it’s ready with anyone you know eager to tackle interesting research questions that will help to improve NCDs care in emergencies!

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