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Conducting Research During Humanitarian Emergencies

Date:
April 14, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
In 1987 the international medical and humanitarian aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) created its own research center, called Epicentre, to help address critical health research questions that arise during humanitarian emergencies. Now scientists look back over twenty years of research conducted by MSF and Epicentre and discuss how this research helped to improve field operations.

In 1987 the international medical and humanitarian aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) created its own research center, called Epicentre, to help address critical health research questions that arise during humanitarian emergencies. In PLoS Medicine, Vincent Brown from Epicentre and colleagues look back over twenty years of research conducted by MSF and Epicentre and discuss how this research helped to improve field operations.

The authors discuss their research on:

  • rapidly assessing the health status of a population--such as a July 1994 survey among 800,000 Rwandan refugees in Goma, Zaïre, which showed that in the first month alone over 10% of the population had died, 88% from diarrhea
  • responding to infectious disease outbreaks, such as a 2004 study during a large hepatitis E outbreak in Darfur, Sudan, which found that chlorinated surface water was a potential risk factor for hepatitis E transmission compared with non-chlorinated water from deep drilling
  • treating malnutrition, including testing various techniques to try and predict acute malnutrition in young children
  • developing better diagnostic tools, such as rapid diagnostic tests for malaria.
  • "Finding pragmatic and efficacious answers to public health questions generated by the field has led Epicentre research activities over the last 20 years," say Dr Brown and colleagues. "The ultimate goal remains to address questions aimed at significantly improve the health status of affected populations."

Journal reference: Brown V, Guerin PJ, Legros D, Paquet C, Pécoul B, et al. (2008) Research in complexhumanitarian emergencies: The Médecins Sans Frontières/Epicentre experience. PLoS Med 5(4): e89.



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Public Library of Science. "Conducting Research During Humanitarian Emergencies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414210306.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, April 14). Conducting Research During Humanitarian Emergencies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414210306.htm
Public Library of Science. "Conducting Research During Humanitarian Emergencies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414210306.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

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