Ebola emerges in fragile states: another ‘wake- up’ call?

By Kate Hawkins

Many ReBUILD researchers are also members of the Thematic Working Group on Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States. Suzanne Fustukian (pictured), of the Institute for International Health and Development, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, is on the Steering Committee.

Along with Karen Cavanaugh who works at USAID she has just published a blog on Ebola for the Health Systems Global website. In it she argues:

In 2013 World Bank President Jim Kim stated that the lack of progress for many fragile states: “should be a wake-up call to the global community not to dismiss these countries as lost causes,” and that “timely and critical support [is needed] to improve the lives of people living in these fragile countries.”

If the global community has been sleeping on the job of supporting fragile and post-conflict settings, then the Ebola outbreak is certainly something to wake us up.

Read more…


Networking for better research, policy and practice

ReBUILD are really proud to be part of the Thematic Working Group on Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict Affected States which is hosted by Health Systems Global. They have a LinkedIn group. If you are interested please join! Our colleague Tim Martineau provided an update on what they have been up to since the start of the year.

“Since we began in January 2014 we have made progress; consolidating membership, beginning research on the landscape and priorities related to health systems research in post-conflict settings, and publishing our special issue. We are entering a phase where we need your involvement to improve governance and decision making processes, foster engagement and sharing of knowledge and experience, and create a real buzz at Cape Town.

We’re getting stronger lets reinforce the links

The group has been growing steadily and we now have nearly 100 members. Connecting us all up is already a major achievement. We all now need to make use of this valuable network. Please contribute to discussions, or start one of your own. If you see a news story that might interest all of us – post it! If you publish new research or read an article that makes you think – post it! Have a question and need expert advice – post it! We make a commitment to get your post up on line as soon as we can and engage with what you are saying. We hope the rest of the group will too.

We’re publishing, help get the message out

The call for papers for a Special issue of Conflict and Health on “Filling the void: Health systems in fragile and conflict affected states” has had a very good response. Many thanks to all of you who spread the word. The first papers in this series are starting to appear and an editorial will be published around the time of the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research. We’ll make an announcement through this group when the first papers are published.

We’re researching, feed into the process

We are now embarking on two other initiatives:

  • A ‘landscaping paper’ to highlight and debate how the framing of state fragility has impacted on donor, practitioner and researcher engagement with health systems in these settings. While the critique of fragility has evolved in the last decade, policy and practice on the ground has not kept pace. Donors, in particular, continue to underestimate complexity of building and sustaining health systems. We welcome your views and involvement in this debate.
  • A prioritisation exercise to identify key research areas for health systems in fragile and conflict affected states. We are just starting this process, but it involves a wide consultation exercise and of course we will be contacting you about this.

We’re raising (a little bit of) money

We have been fortunate in getting a small start-up grant from the Wellcome Trust. The grant will be administered through the ReBUILD consortium. The grant is helping is fund some of the publication costs for the special issue and staff to undertake the research prioritisation exercise, and landscaping paper (this includes some small meetings on research prioritisation). Travel funds will help us involve policy makers in the session we will be holding at the Global Symposium. We also have some money to provide some general support to the Steering Committee. It’s a good start.

We’re engaging with stakeholders, be part of the process

We have two sessions at the beginning of the Global Symposium, please add these dates to your diary and come along and support the Group.

  1. Technical session: this will include an introduction to the group, one or two short presentations based on papers published in the special issue, and a structured debate as part of the research priority setting process. This is currently scheduled for 09.00 -11.00 on Tuesday 30 September
  2. Business meeting: to discuss the governance of the TWG in future and the work plan. This is currently scheduled for a lunch-time session on Wednesday 1 October.

We’re getting organised: Would you like to be involved?

The Steering Committee (Tim Martineau,Egbert Sondorp,Suzanne Fustukian, and Steve Commins) has currently been working as small virtual body developing the programme and managing the LinkedIn group. We will be discussing the process of formalising our governance structure at the Cape Town business meeting, but will contact you through LinkedIn beforehand to get views and inputs. If you would like to play a more active role in the process please email Tim.”

The image used in this blog is provided courtesy of Christopher Penn.