From 8-12 October the Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research was held in Liverpool, UK.
The HHE research group was well represented with a presentation on the Perceptions of Ebola Virus Disease Research project by Ani Chénier entitled “Beyond Triumphalist Discourses” and a poster on the Palliative Care in Humanitarian Crisis settings.
From the study on perceptions of EVD research:
The full citation of the presentation is:
Elysée Nouvet, Ani Chénier, Oumou Bah-Sow, John Pringle, Sékou Kouyaté, Sonya de Laat, Matthew Hunt, Carrie Bernard, Lynda Redwood-Campbell, Laurie Elit, Lisa Schwartz, Beyond triumphalist discourses: West African voices on the need to recognize and sustain national research capacity in the wake of the 2014-6 Ebola epidemic. Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, 8 –12 October 2018,Liverpool, UK.
BACKGROUND The 2014-6 West African Ebola epidemic, in which a neglected disease for which no effective treatment or vaccine was yet known claimed over 11,000 lives, was a stark reminder of the essential role that health research plays within health systems.
In 2016, we launched the “Perceptions and moral experiences of research conducted during the West Africa Ebola outbreak” study. This qualitative study seeks to better understand socially-situated practices and moral experiences of research conducted in public health crisis situations, and to deepen understanding of challenges to and strategies for the ethical conduct of research during public health emergencies. It explored, among other issues, the practical and ethical complexities of international research collaborations established during the outbreak.
METHODS We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with 108 stakeholders directly involved in research at trial sites in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Participants included: 1- people having participated in clinical and persistence studies; 2- people engaged in the conduct of research (as investigators or research staff), 3- local and international research ethics board members; 4- governmental and civil society leaders. Most (91%) were from West African countries.
RESULTS Participants identified many strengths of research conducted during the outbreak, notably: 1) the success of some international partnerships (especially vaccine trials), 2) the development of innovative and adapted strategies for communicating with participants, 3) opportunities for capacity building, especially for first-time researchers, and 4) rigorous and constructive oversight by national research ethic boards.
Key challenges or failures included: 1) limited opportunities for higher-level engagement of affected-country researchers within international partnerships, 2) limited engagement of mid- or late-career researchers in the development or leadership of studies, 3) unequal access to and control over research materials like bio-samples, and 4) failures to sustainably invest in national research institutions.
CONCLUSIONS Our findings highlight the important role played by health research within local and national health systems, and complicate triumphalist discourses about the role of ‘capacity building’ in international research. During the 2014-6 West African Ebola outbreak, efforts towards capacity building were appreciated by many. Yet many also expressed frustration with the lack of investment in national research infrastructure and institutions, and the lack of opportunities for mid- and late-career researchers from affected countries. This had important practical implications, notably for the setting of research priorities that reflect needs and possibilities at the national level. Capacity must not only be built: it must also be recognized, supported, and sustained.
From the study on palliative care in humanitarian crises:
Full reference for the poster:
de Laat, S., Matthew Hunt, Elysée Nouvet, Olive Wahoush, Kevin Bezanson, Carrie Bernard, Lynda Redwood-Campbell, Laurie Elit, Wejdan Khater, Oumou Bah Sow, Emmanuel Musoni, Rachel Yantzi, Ani Chénier , Lisa Schwartz, Dying in the Margins: Palliative Care, Humanitarian Crises and the Intersection of Global and Local Health Systems, Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, 8 –12 October 2018, Liverpool, UK, Abstract ID: 3989
The poster is available below (& here as a PDF):
OBJECTIVES There is no doubt that the primary goal of humanitarian healthcare has to be to save lives. Given the extremity of the crises in which humanitarians respond, not all lives can be saved. There is a growing acknowledgment of the role of palliative care in humanitarian healthcare. Here we present an interpretive description of the experience of palliative care in a variety of humanitarian crisis settings. Our objective is to map the diversity of those experiences and to examine the innovations and inconsistencies of global and local health systems to assess the obstacles and opportunities of these health systems in the support of palliative care during international humanitarian crises.
METHODS Four case studies were identified through stakeholder meetings and key informant interviews that represent a broad range of humanitarian emergency situations where palliative care needs arise:
- A public health emergency: Guinea during the Ebola Crisis;
- An acute conflict & refugee situation: Syrian refugees in Jordan;
- A protracted refugee situation: Congolese and Burundian refugees in Rwanda; and,
- Natural disaster situations: various geographic settings.
For each case study, in-depth, semi-structured interviews exploring experiences, needs, frustrations, and possibilities for palliative care were conducted with patients or family members of individuals with a terminal or life-threatening condition suited to palliative care. Along with interviews with crisis-affected people, local and international humanitarian healthcare providers were interviewed at each site.
RESULTS Global and local health systems—independently and intersecting with each other—emerged as a recurrent source of barriers to the provision of palliative care. Dominant themes include: global restrictions and local cultural anxieties to accessing essential medications for symptom relief; importance of culturally relevant, and locally informed, care and psychosocial support; the lack of international and local palliative care guidelines, training, and support for the provision of palliative care during international humanitarian crisis events. Changes to global health systems and improved interaction between local and international actors were cited as enablers to comprehensive palliative care provision. Palliative care was recognized as an essential component of holistic, comprehensive humanitarian healthcare, and should never act as a substitute to health system improvements for curative care.
DISCUSSION The alleviation of suffering is central to the work of humanitarian healthcare, and yet competing priorities often result in a lack of attention to palliative care. Our study presents critical insight onto the role of local and global health systems in the provision of palliative care in contexts of humanitarian crises.