Fund launched to support Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises
4 June 2013
A total of £6.5 million will be available over three years, funded equally by the Wellcome Trust and DFID, with ELRHA overseeing the programme's execution and management.
The Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme aims to increase the level and quality of collaborative research on recognised public health challenges in humanitarian crises occurring in low- and middle-income countries, leading to improved health outcomes through cost-effective humanitarian interventions.
Humanitarian crises such as floods, earthquakes and civil wars can have a devastating health impact on affected populations. Scarce resources, damaged services and infrastructure, and poor water and hygiene facilities lead to increased risk of disease and malnutrition, leaving affected countries' governments and the international community struggling to deliver vital life-saving services.
Dr Jimmy Whitworth, Head of International Activities at the Wellcome Trust, said: "The international community spends billions of pounds each year in responding to humanitarian crises. Yet we know very little about what works best in these situations and there is a real need for better evidence to inform emergency responses.
"We’re working with DFID and ELRHA to bridge the gap between research and practice by strengthening partnerships between public health researchers and humanitarian agencies. The ultimate goal is to offer a robust, evidence-based approach to improve public health and emergency responses in crisis situations."
International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said: "The British have a proud tradition of humanitarian support, but we need to do more than just give money once a drought or earthquake has struck. This programme is a perfect example of a smarter approach to help the international community better respond to emergencies.
"Working with the Wellcome Trust, international NGOs and leading academic institutions, it will involve using scientific expertise to gather evidence that will enable us to protect health in countries affected by crises."
The programme aims to build partnerships between humanitarian actors and academic researchers with collaboration between these two communities a prerequisite of applying for support from R2HC. Another key outcome of the programme will be to develop improved ethical guidelines for undertaking research in disaster and emergency environments so that research projects funded through the programme can be approved in a timely way when an emergency strikes, or even in advance.
As part of the programme, R2HC will establish a rapid response facility of approved research teams that can be deployed into the heart of a humanitarian disaster to gather data as it strikes. This is the first facility of its kind and will provide vital evidence on health interventions at the earliest stages of a disaster.
Jess Camburn, ELRHA's director, commented on the partnership, "We are delighted to be working with DFID and the Wellcome Trust to launch this important new programme. ELRHA’s core mission is to enable and support effective partnerships between academic researchers and humanitarian actors around the world. The need for better evidence underpinning humanitarian action and interventions is pressing and we believe that programmes like R2HC can make a significant contribution to improving the impact and effectiveness of humanitarian interventions in the future."
R2HC is launching on 4 June 2013 at the Wellcome Trust in London and the first call for proposals will be announced at a series of town hall meetings thereafter in London, New York, Delhi and Nairobi, arranged to encourage applications from research teams globally.
Image: French voluntary hospital, Eritrea. Credit: N Durrell McKenna, Wellcome Images.
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Notes to editors
About Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC)
The Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme is co-funded by UK aid from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Wellcome Trust. R2HC is managed by ELRHA (Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance), which is hosted by Save the Children. The views expressed are not necessarily those of DFID or the Wellcome Trust.
The R2HC programme comes as part of the response to the UK Humanitarian Emergency Response Review (HERR) published in 2011. The HERR review showed how humanitarian responses are often driven by immediate need and recommended more investment in rigorous evidence and evaluation to better understand what works in meeting diverse humanitarian challenges. The R2HC programme is a core component of DFID's wider Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Strategy.
The R2HC programme will:
- Undertake a system-wide Evidence Review to identify major challenges and needs associated with public health interventions in humanitarian contexts in order to generate a series of research focuses. The Evidence Review is being carried out by a research consortia involving London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Harvard University and Overseas Development Institute.
- Facilitate new research collaborations between public health researchers and NGOs and/or multilateral agencies. Research collaborations will address key research questions identified in the Evidence Review.
- Establish a rapid response facility set aside for pre-approved research projects/consortia to be set up and undertaken in the acute phase of an emergency.
Funding decisions for R2HC will be made by a committee of 11 leading independent experts in the field of humanitarian work and public health research.
ELRHA is the first collaborative network dedicated to supporting partnerships between higher education institutions and humanitarian organisations and partners around the world. ELRHA aims to see a global humanitarian community where humanitarian actors actively collaborate with higher education institutes to develop highly professional responders, share expertise and carry out research that noticeably reduces risk and ensures that those suffering from the impact of disasters receive more timely, relevant and sustainable assistance.
About the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.
About the UK Department for International Development
The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK's work to end extreme poverty. We're ending the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit.