Our technical experts partner with their peers in the humanitarian community to conduct research and share best practices and evaluation tools to help advance and improve humanitarian assistance. Program areas garnering research attention include mental health and psychosocial support, gender-based violence and infectious disease.
Leveraging Experience in the Fight Against Ebola Virus Disease
International Medical Corps played an important role in fighting the 2014–2016 West Africa outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). In August 2015, we established the Ebola Research Team, with the goal to collect, aggregate, standardize, analyze and disseminate all data and results from any analyses conducted during the outbreak, for the benefit of the entire humanitarian community. In addition, the team partnered with external investigators to research new drugs and devices that can aid in the future management of EVD. Finally, we work with local Ministries of Health (MOH), the World Health Organization (WHO) and several other humanitarian partners to share data and knowledge in the hopes of improving the response to future epidemics.
Fostering Responsive Mental Health Systems in the Syrian Refugee Crisis
International Medical Corps is a consortium member for the STRENGTHS project, which aims to provide effective community-based mental health care implementation strategies to scale up the delivery and uptake of effective mental health interventions for Syrian refugees in eight countries throughout the Middle East and Europe.
Our Mental Health and Psychosocial Support team working in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan is trained on a new intervention adapted for Syrian culture, Group Problem Management Plus, and is facilitating this group-based support program for Syrian clients. International Medical Corps works with the University of New South Wales, which will conduct research to measure the impact of this intervention.
Ebola Virus Disease Data Sharing Platform
International Medical Corps is working with Medecins Sans Frontieres, the West African Health Organization, the West African Taskforce for Emerging and Re-emerging Infection (WATER), Oxford University, the Welcome Trust and the World Health Organization as co-founders and steering committee members of the EVD Data Sharing Platform, with the goal of collecting and assuring unfettered access to all clinical, laboratory and epidemiological data collected during the 2014–2016 epidemic, to strengthen the global response to any future outbreak.
Integration of Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Services in Primary Healthcare Facilities in Post-Earthquake Nepal
International Medical Corps, in collaboration with Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Nepal and Integrated Community Development Committee, established a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) program in three severely affected districts (Dhading, Gorkha and Sindhuli). The program was designed to respond to immediate MHPSS needs and to support the longer-term integration of MHPSS services into primary healthcare. The training focused on six priority mental health conditions: depression, psychoses, epilepsy, suicide, alcohol use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. The program is highly relevant in the context of Nepal, given the increased mental health needs following the 2015 earthquakes and the lack of a robust pre-existing national mental health system.
In March 2021, Cambridge University Press published our team’s research on the MHPSS program’s implementation and results, including overall reach, effectiveness and lessons learned. The complete citation is below and the article can be read here.
Ashley Leichner, Aemal Akhtar, Caoimhe Nic a Bhaird, Rebecca Wener, Shiromi M. Perera and Inka Weissbecker (2021) Mental health integration in primary health services after the earthquake in Nepal: a mixed-methods program evaluation. Global Mental Health, 8, E10.
Mental Health for Primary Healthcare Toolkit for Use in Humanitarian Settings
Funded by USAID/OFDA, using WHO mhGAP-IG Intervention Guidelines, we documented lessons learned from integrated mental health programs in Philippines, South Sudan and Central African Republic. This work resulted in International Medical Corps’ 2016 “Mental Health Integration into General Healthcare: A Step-Wise Approach,” which lays out guidance on a six-step approach to integrating mental health care in humanitarian settings. The toolkit facilitates the training of emergency health professionals in the frontline management of priority mental health conditions, to enable the integration of mental health into primary care. Next steps of the program include summarizing the survey mapping results and conducting in-depth interview with stakeholders.
“Newborn Health Care in Humanitarian Crises in South Sudan” is a pilot project involving field testing and data collection around newborn care in emergencies. International Medical Corps is partnering with Johns Hopkins University, Save the Children and UNICEF on the project.
Barriers to Nutrition in Humanitarian Settings
International Medical Corps’ nutrition and food security technical advisors recently conducted several rapid assessments to help program staﬀ identify the barriers—and incentives—encountered when engaging communities in behavior change, such as breastfeeding, prenatal and postnatal care, consumption of iron-rich foods and dietary diversity. The research was conducted in five countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Sierra Leone and Syria.
UNICEF commissioned a Barrier Analysis (BA) in August 2017 to determine the reasons behind prevalent poor infant and young-child feeding and maternal nutrition practices among internally displaced people (IDP) in camp and urban settings in northern Syria (Aleppo and Idlib Governorates) and also in the south (Dar’a Governorate), to better tailor Nutrition Cluster partner program activities. International Medical Corps’ Shiromi M. Perera published “Barrier analysis of infant and young child feeding and maternal nutrition behaviors among IDPs in northern and southern Syria” in Field Exchange, Issue 59 (January 2019), summarizing the findings and recommendations from this first-ever barrier analysis of feeding practices in Syria.
Further research on this issue:
Shiromi M. Perera, Amelia Reese Masterson (2016) Barrier Analysis of Exclusive Breastfeeding, Minimum Dietary Diversity and Early Antenatal Care Seeking Behaviors of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon https://www.fsnnetwork.org/barrier-analysis-exclusive-breastfeeding-minimum-dietary-diversity-and-early-antenatal-care-seeking
Shiromi M. Perera, Suzanne Brinkmann (2016) Barrier Analysis of Infant & Young Child Feeding and Maternal Nutrition Behaviors Among Adolescent Syrian Refugees in Urban Turkey https://www.fsnnetwork.org/barrier-analysis-infant-young-child-feeding-and-maternal-nutrition-behaviors-among-adolescent-syrian
Amelia Reese Masterson, Shiromi M. Perera, Patricia Moghames (2016) Camp-based Barrier Analysis of Early Initiation of Breastfeeding, Iron-rich Food Consumption, and Early Antenatal Care Seeking Behaviors of Syrian Refugees in Azraq Camp, Jordan https://www.fsnnetwork.org/camp-based-barrier-analysis-early-initiation-breastfeeding-iron-rich-food-consumption-and-early
Cost of the Diet Study in Jordan’s Azraq Refugee Camp
A cost of the diet study in Jordan’s Azraq Refugee Camp was designed to understand the extent to which economic poverty and typical dietary habits prevent households and vulnerable individuals from consuming a nutritious diet. The study also sought to understand how refugees in settings such as Azraq Camp could meet energy and nutrient requirements using local foods, then use this information to influence nutrition and food-security program design. The study examined ways to inform and influence nutrition- and food security-related policy and advocacy processes within Azraq Camp, and in similar protracted camp settings.
The authors of this 2016 study are: Esther Busquet, Amelia Reese-Masterson, Patricia Moghames The full study is here.
Stunting and Wasting in Children under Two in Kenya
International Medical Corps’ Amelia Reese-Masterson, with Masumi Maehara and Mark Murage Gathii, published, “Stunting and Wasting in Children under Two Years Old in a Semi-Nomadic Pastoralist Population in Kenya,” in Field Exchange Emergency Nutrition Network, Issue 52 (June 2016).
Amelia Reese-Masterson, with Dancliff Mbura, Caroline Chiedo and Fridah Mutea, also published “Improving Food and Nutrition Security for Households with Underweight Children in Taita Taveta County, Kenya,” in Field Exchange.
Adolescent Inclusion in Care Groups in Nigeria to Improve Nutrition
International Medical Corps’ Shiromi Perera published “Adolescent Inclusion in the Care Group Approach: The Nigeria Experience,” in Field Exchange Emergency Nutrition Network, Issue 52 (June 2016). Adolescent girls are a nutritionally vulnerable group due to their nutrient requirements for growth; pregnancy heightens demands and increases both maternal and child risks. Recommendations include development of adolescent-only sessions, targeting unmarried mothers through home visits, more in-depth support on topics such as pre-conception health and nutrition and identifying new means of targeting girls.
Shiromi Michelle Perera (2016). Adolescent inclusion in the Care Group approach: the Nigeria experience. Field Exchange 52, June 2016. p110
Summary article in Field Exchange is here.
Full Case Study is here.
The Use of Care and Peer Support Groups in Emergency Settings
International Medical Corps’ Arianna Serino, Harley Stokes and Sandra Wilcox published “Care Groups in Emergencies: Evidence on the Use of Care Groups and Peer Support Groups in Emergency Settings,” in FSN Network (2015). The Care Group approach, a specific type of peer-support group model, has proven instrumental in addressing issues of food insecurity and nutrition within many development contexts. International Medical Corps, along with other implementing partners, including members of the CORE Social and Behavior Change working group, have modified the model for use in emergency contexts, finding that variations of the Core Group approach could lead to successful behavior change.
Addressing Community Attitudes and Stigma that Prevent Access to the Lifesaving Post-abortion Care (PAC) Package
Globally, 60% of preventable maternal deaths occur in fragile states. A major cause of these deaths are unsafe abortions, due to the collapse of health systems. Post-abortion care (PAC) is a lifesaving package of interventions severely lacking in humanitarian crises. A research partnership between International Medical Corps and the Reproductive Health Access, Information and Services in Emergencies (RAISE) Initiative, Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University conducted a study to identify factors influencing access to, and the use of, PAC services in South Sudan. This study showed we can effectively address community attitudes and stigma that prevent women from seeking out and using the PAC package by taking two steps: strengthening clinical skills of PAC providers through competency-based training, while addressing negative attitudes through values clarification and attitude transformation (VCAT) activities to assure respectful care; and ensuring the accurate collection of data crucial to monitoring PAC, including post-abortion contraceptive use.
The Technical Brief summarizing the study conducted at four International Medical Corps-supported health facilities in two Protection of Civilian (PoC) camps in Juba and two Sudanese refugee camps in Maban, South Sudan can be found here.