£417k study to improve research ethics in humanitarian crises

Published: 27 September 2016 at 12:21

Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana

Anglia Ruskin is first post-92 university to receive funding from Elrha

Academics from Anglia Ruskin University have been awarded £417,000 to analyse the ethical challenges involved in health research in humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, Nepal, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.

Anglia Ruskin has become the first post-92 university to receive funding from Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme. The project aims to analyse the ethical challenges of humanitarian health research and implement an online resource to improve awareness and share best-practice among researchers looking into humanitarian health issues.

The project will gather data from earthquake-hit Nepal, refugee camps in Lebanon and Ethiopia, war-torn communities such as Helmand in Afghanistan and Freetown in Sierra Leone, and the Northern Provinces of Sri Lanka, an area still coming to terms with the effects of a civil war.

Lead investigator Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana will work with colleagues at Médecines Sans Frontières, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dublin City University, Dutch research organisation HealthNet TPO, and other global partners.

Dr Siriwardhana, Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University, said: 

“It is vital that health research into humanitarian crises is joined-up, ethical and consistent if researchers are able to improve things for people struggling in war zones or areas hit by natural disasters.

“We have seen so many of these crises in recent years and there is a corresponding increase of research attention, however a focus on ethics is important to prevent exploitation of vulnerable populations affected by these crisis situations.

“This research grant is a significant one for Anglia Ruskin and I look forward to working with colleagues on this project which will help guide researchers and academics investigating humanitarian crises for years to come.”

The R2HC programme is funded equally by the Wellcome Trust and DFID, with Elrha overseeing the programme’s execution and management. It aims to improve health outcomes by strengthening the evidence base for public health interventions in humanitarian crises. Visit www.elrha.org/work/r2hc for more information.