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Sexual and Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings

As of today, there are 68.5 million people who have had to flee their homes, nearly 25.4 million of them being classified as refugees (UNHCR, 2018). We have reached the highest level of displacement in recorded history (UNHCR, 2018). There is a need to further discuss the unique and specific needs of displaced people and the complications surrounding effective services.

People who are affected by humanitarian crises, whether it be war, violence, or natural disasters, are particularly vulnerable to life-threatening ailments, including sexual and reproductive ill-health. The failure to effectively provide sexual and reproductive health services to this population is a leading cause of death, disease and disability and subsequently poses serious barriers in the advancement towards the Sustainable Development Goals (Foster et al., 2017). Those in a particularly vulnerable position are women and girls of reproductive age. According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, women and girls in humanitarian settings have a significantly increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence including exploitation and abuse (2019).

Improvements in sexual and reproductive health and rights is directly linked to an improvement in both social and economic development (CARE, 2013). However, in order to affectively address these issues we need to work towards not only improving direct services, we need to work towards creating real systemic change targeting gender inequality, power imbalances and policy barriers (CARE, 2013). The first step in developing meaningful health interventions is gathering reliable data and scientific evidence to support them. Unfortunately, there is a gap in this field of research done on women and girl’s health in these areas (WHO, 2016).

Due to the particular needs of this population, there is a need to encourage the unity and collaboration between different sectors to assure comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care (Foster et al., 2017). We need to be actively working towards implementing new strategies to increase prevention and response interventions as well as strengthening social and protective networks in these areas. There is a global obligation to assure that the right to sexual and reproductive health is upheld for everyone, including those living in humanitarian settings.

Despite these shortcomings, Canada is at the forefront of a feminist humanitarian movement and other countries are following in its wake. After announcing its Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada pledged to better support women and girls’ health in developing countries and has launched 123 projects in 51 countries as of April 2019 (Government of Canada, 2017). With the investment of $650 million, the Canadian government has worked towards closing the gaps in sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls by providing and improving access to comprehensive health care, prevention and education (Government of Canada, 2017). The launch of this foreign policy is an important step in the advancement of a more feminist approach to humanitarian aid.

As the World Health Assembly (WHA) approaches along with the 25th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, the stage is set for the international community to implement sustainable change and uphold the rights of women and girls. It is important however that in these discussions we ensure that those who are affected by these crises are not only seen and heard within the humanitarian system but that they are main actors in leading the discussion and shaping the policies in question (CARE, 2019). The year 2019 has the potential to enact significant change in the way we carry out humanitarian aid and Canada must continue to be a leading voice in this global effort.

References

CARE. (2013, September). Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights [Text]. Retrieved from https://www.care.org/work/health/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights

Foster, A. M., Evans, D. P., Garcia, M., Knaster, S., Krause, S., McGinn, T., … Wheeler, E. (2017). The 2018 Inter-agency field manual on reproductive health in humanitarian settings: revising the global standards. Reproductive Health Matters, 25(51), 18–24. https://doi.org/10.1080/09688080.2017.1403277

Government of Canada, G. A. C. (2016). Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. Retrieved from https://international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/priorities-priorites/policy-politique.aspx?lang=eng

UNHCR (2018, June). Figures at a Glance. Retrieved from  https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

WHO (2016). Sexual and reproductive health and rights of refugees and migrants. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/news/srhr-refugees-migrant/en/

CARE (2019, April). Womens and girls rights and agency in humanitarian action: A life-saving priority. Retrieved from https://care.ca/2019/04/womens-and-girls-rights-and-agency-in-humanitarian-action-a-life-saving-priority/

 

 

Applied epidemiology: Investigation of outbreaks of foodborne illness

Recent, high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks have created confusion and concern for Canadian consumers. From a Salmonella outbreak in western Canada linked to cucumbers in early fall­­, to the current E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, public health is working overtime to identify and solve illness outbreaks linked to the food supply. This post will provide an overview of the investigation of foodborne illness outbreaks in Canada. Continue reading Applied epidemiology: Investigation of outbreaks of foodborne illness

2018/19 CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

2018/19 Call for Submissions

The Determinants of Health

We invite you to submit a manuscript for consideration for our upcoming issue. Submission criteria are based on the twelve determinants of health as outlined by Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Types of submissions

Completed manuscripts may include an original research article, an essay, or a review paper, in English or French. The word limit does not include the abstract or references.

  • Original articles: 4000 word limit
    • Either quantitative or qualitative
    • Includes review articles, case reports, literature reviews and clinical experiments.
  • Article, Book or Media reviews: 1000 word limit
  • Essay: 1250 word limit

How to submit

To submit a manuscript, please do so by using the Open Journal System (OJS). In order to make a submission, you must register as a user and create an author account. You will be asked to provide the necessary information about the authors and the submission itself, to attach the file you are submitting, and to agree with our terms and conditions of use. We do not accept any submission by email or by mail.

Manuscripts will be peer-reviewed and selected articles will be published in the upcoming issue of the IJHS. As the IJHS is a bilingual and an open-access endeavour, every abstract will be translated and all articles will be freely accessible to the public.

Troubleshooting

If you experience any trouble submitting your manuscript, please contact editor@riss-ijhs.ca to report the issue and seek assistance.

Personal Health Technology: Potential, perils, and privacy

Personal health information refers to demographic information, medical history, test and laboratory results, insurance information, and other data that a healthcare professional collects to identify an individual and determine appropriate care1. In the past decade or so, some of the tests and techniques used to collect personal health information have become publicly accessible. For example, private companies now offer genetic testing and genome sequencing to anyone able to pay. At the same time, there has been an explosion of wearable health monitoring devices. Given this revolution in personal health technology, important implications for individuals, the practice of medicine, and privacy must be considered.

Continue reading Personal Health Technology: Potential, perils, and privacy

Mortality prediction with a single question

“On a scale from 1 to 5, how would you rate your own health?”

Self-reported or self-rated health status (SRH) is a commonly used indicator in both clinical epidemiology and population health. It is a subjective measure of health that is thought to reflect an individual’s integrated perception of the domains of health, including biological, psychological, and social dimensions. The World Health Organization considers SRH to be a reflection of population health and healthy life expectancy within countries1. It is assessed either by a questionnaire or by a single question which asks subjects to rate their own health, usually on a four or five-point scale from poor to excellent. SRH has been used as a health indicator in epidemiological studies since the 1950s, and has been found to predict future health outcomes independent of physical, socio-demographic, and psychosocial indicators2-5. It is widely considered to be a valid indicator of health status.

Continue reading Mortality prediction with a single question

Sexual Health Education Programs in Ontario and Quebec: A Passing Grade or Flunking Out?

In 2015, Ontario and Quebec introduced new sexual health education programs in elementary and secondary schools. Formal evaluations on the effectiveness of these education programs have yet to be conducted. For now, however, we can pose some preliminary questions: What are their similarities and differences between the two curricula? How comprehensive are they? What do they bring that is novel? Could we give each of them a passing grade?

Continue reading Sexual Health Education Programs in Ontario and Quebec: A Passing Grade or Flunking Out?

Digital Health Platforms to Improve Health of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Authors: Sara Hanafy, Ayah Nayfeh

Increasing conflict and political fragility in Syria has forced the large-scale displacement of millions of Syrians into neighbouring countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Nearly one in every four people in Lebanon is a refugee, many of whom are women and children whose medical needs are not being met [1]. The influx of refugees from Syria over the past five years has moved Lebanon from the 69th largest refugee-hosting country to the third largest.

Continue reading Digital Health Platforms to Improve Health of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Healthcare and Climate Change

The healthcare sector has come to represent an environmental concern, due to its facilities’ massive consumption of energy and production of biomedical waste. As such, we observe a troubling paradox: while the healthcare sector seeks to ensure population health and prevent illnesses, it contributes directly to greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn greatly hinders population health and well-being.

Continue reading Healthcare and Climate Change