Nov 18, 2017 Volume 390 Number 10109 p2215-2324 e39-e40
Health in humanitarian crises
Public health information in crisis-affected populations: a review of methods and their use for advocacy and action
Francesco Checchi, Abdihamid Warsame, Victoria Treacy-Wong, Jonathan Polonsky, Mark van Ommeren, Claudine Prudhon
Valid and timely information about various domains of public health underpins the effectiveness of humanitarian public health interventions in crises. However, obstacles including insecurity, insufficient resources and skills for data collection and analysis, and absence of validated methods combine to hamper the quantity and quality of public health information available to humanitarian responders. This paper, the second in a Series of four papers, reviews available methods to collect public health data pertaining to different domains of health and health services in crisis settings, including population size and composition, exposure to armed attacks, sexual and gender-based violence, food security and feeding practices, nutritional status, physical and mental health outcomes, public health service availability, coverage and effectiveness, and mortality. The paper also quantifies the availability of a minimal essential set of information in large armed conflict and natural disaster crises since 2010: we show that information was available and timely only in a small minority of cases. On the basis of this observation, we propose an agenda for methodological research and steps required to improve on the current use of available methods. This proposition includes setting up a dedicated interagency service for public health information and epidemiology in crises.