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Public health in humanitarian emergencies, needs better evidence

More evidence is needed to know which public health interventions work well during humanitarian crises, according to a review that was instigated partly to help increase collaboration between academics and humanitarian aid groups.

The review, commissioned by the Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance network, Elrha, and published on 22 November, found a substantial increase in the amount of research being done on the effectiveness of public health interventions. Seventy-six per cent of the work considered had been published since 2000 and the quality of the studies improved during the past 10 years.

However, more evidence is needed, the report says, particularly for health topics related to gender-based violence and water, sanitation and hygiene. In certain areas, such as mental health and gender-based violence, evidence on the effectiveness of interventions was found to be lacking. In other areas, such as injuries, sanitation and hygiene, and non-communicable diseases, evidence on the most effective way to deliver interventions was insufficient.

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