Research into wellness for refugees (and the rest of us)

"Now more than ever, we need to stand with refugees": that was the United Nations's official theme on this year's World Refugee Day. A desire for health and wellness is one of many (many, many) qualities common to humans, displaced or not—and in recent months, the Journal of International Humanitarian Action has published a slew of novel research relevant to the physical and emotional health of refugees.

This blog was crossposted from SpringerOpen blog

In step with the UN’s solidarity theme, the investigative focus of the papers below extends to the wellbeing of other people in humanitarian crises, as well as the aid workers who may walk alongside displaced people and who face a constellation of complex issues. Here are synopses of several important papers with links to full texts, always free to read.

Palliative care amid crisis

Ten authors joined forces to augment our understanding of a topic that’s vastly important, though often difficult to think about. First comes a systematic review of the literature from 2005 through 2017. The review describes palliative care needs, practices, barriers, and recommendations that apply uniquely to humanitarian crisis settings, including refugee camps. Despite a growing body of guidance and policy being developed by international aid organizations, the authors’ analysis of 95 publications reveals a paucity of data. To develop increasingly “realistic and context-appropriate policies and guidelines,” they call for “more research and open discussion on palliative care needs in humanitarian crises.”  You will find evidence, findings, conclusions, and discussions in their entirety, along with implementable guidance for practitioners, here.

Nutrition meets cash transfer programming

The five authors of this article had a clear objective: to develop a research agenda on cash transfer programming (CTP) for health and nutrition in humanitarian settings. They adopted a qualitative descriptive approaching to data collection, employing online surveys as well as face-to-face sessions with an advisory group, carrying out this research in four stages over 13 months. They accomplished their goal: with evidence gathered, and data then exhaustively analyzed, they emerged with nine research categories and a solid framework. Researchers, policy-makers, funders, and the humanitarian aid agencies that implement strategic assistance for refugees and others undergoing crisis now have a clear starting point for deploying cash transfer programming for the purpose of health and nutrition where it’s most needed.To learn more about CTP and peruse the entire study and discussion, click here.

A menstrual “toolkit,” co-created by refugees

“Displaced adolescent girls and women face significant barriers to managing monthly menstruation  in a safe, private, and dignified manner,” point out a new research paper’s eight authors, all affiliated with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health or the International Rescue Committee (IRC). To address the issue in three refugee camps in Northwest Tanzania, the researchers set out to develop a menstrual hygiene management (MSM) toolkit. They did so methodically and conscientiously; the process involved a range of research, piloting, and evaluation activities before the toolkit was complete. It was important to the group to seek feedback from the female refugees that would use the toolkit. Their comments shaped the products’ development, and yielded important insights that will be applied to future projects.The story of this product’s creation, as well as insights into the underpinnings and implications of this important work, is available here.

For aid workers, wellbeing matters (Call for papers!)

“Humanitarian aid workers experience adverse mental health effects from their work at higher rates than the military, police and other emergency service personnel,” according to this paper. Accordingly, the emotional and mental health of those who work with refugees and others in volatile settings around the world merits attention, too. A special collection, now open for submissions in the Journal of International Humanitarian Action, focuses on “Psychosocial Elements of Humanitarian Action”. Contributions from practitioners and from a range of disciplines are welcome; more details are here.

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