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1 Background

The need for a stronger scientific evidence base for responses to humanitarian crises has been identified by various public health actors, and was a key recommendation of the United Kingdom Humanitarian Emergency Response Review.[1] To this end, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Wellcome Trust commissioned a review of the evidence base of public health interventions in humanitarian crises.[2]

The overall aim of the review is to provide a rigorous assessment of the current quality and depth of the evidence-base that informs humanitarian public health programming globally. The specific objectives are:

  • To present a thorough assessment of the current quality and depth of the available evidence-base for humanitarian public health actions.
  • To present a clear and authoritative overview of the frameworks and assumptions which underpin key thematic areas within the humanitarian public health field.
  • To identify critical weaknesses in the evidence base, where further research is required.
  • Identify, through consultation with practitioners and policy makers, priority areas where further investment in the research and evidence base is most needed.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

The conceptual framework used for this review is shown in Figure 1. The framework contains health interventions related to core health topics, and key contextual factors which influence the delivery of the core health interventions in humanitarian crises. The conceptual framework was adapted from Hoffman et al.[3] and the selection of health topics, contextual factors and cross-cutting issues informed by Sphere Standards and discussions with key experts.[4]

[1] HERR, Humanitarian Emergency Response Review, L.P. Ashdown, Editor 2011, Humanitarian Emergency Response Review.

[2] For the purposes of this project, humanitarian public health is defined as interventions that contribute collectively, in combination or singularly to saving lives, building resilience and promoting better health outcomes in humanitarian emergencies. In this approach public health interventions should be considered in their broadest scope including all relevant practice areas such as water and sanitation and nutrition.

[3] Hofmann C, et al., Measuring the impact of humanitarian aid: A review of current practice. Overseas Development Institute, 2004.

[4] Sphere Project, Sphere Handbook: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, 2004.

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