Dr. Hanna Kienzler and colleagues have won a almost £6M RCUK Global Challenges Research Fund Award for the project entitled “Research for Health in Conflict (R4HC-MENA)”
R4HC-MENA is a unique collaboration between researchers at King’s College London, Imperial College, and Cambridge University as well as Birzeit University (West Bank), Hacettepe University (Turkey), King Hussein Cancer Centre (Jordan), and American University Beirut (Lebanon). The PI on the project is Dr. Richard Sullivan (Division of Cancer Studies, KCL) and co-applicants from KCL include Dr. Hanna Kienzler (Department of Global Health & Social medicine), Preeti Patel (School of Security Studies), Wyn Bowen (School of Security Studies), Richard Harding (Cicely Saunders Centre for Palliative Care), and Matt Moran (School of Security Studies).
The vision for our R4HC-MENA partnership is to build sustainable research capacity in the MENA region to address major health challenges arising from conflict, specifically cancer and mental health as key NCDs. R4HC- MENA will build research capacity in four distinct areas: (1) conflict and health; (2) the political economy of health in conflict; (3) cancer; and (4) mental health research in regions of conflict. This research capacity will focus on training staff in a variety of theoretical and practical methods for studying these areas, as well as conducting and publishing research projects to build further capability and disseminate findings. R4HC-MENA will enable lead countries in this region to grow and sustain research capacity that can critically inform aspects of health development that relate to armed conflict in the region.
Within this framework, Hanna Kienzler’s work stream will focus on Palestine in order to establish a training curriculum and deliver a course in research for mental health in conflict in cooperation with Birzeit University. The aim is to (a) develop a research culture within non-academic mental health institutions and (b) develop evidence-based mental health services that allow for the inclusion and treatment of persons with mental disorders in their communities rather than large mental health facilities. To achieve this, her team will make use of blended and technology enhanced learning and independent multidisciplinary study and research. In addition, they will work towards establishing a sustainable research network among professionals and publish findings related to the monitoring and evaluation of the course in academic journals and as a training manual for university lecturers and mental health professionals working in unstable environments.
Overall, R4HC-MENA will inform not only regional and international policy-makers, but also the development of affordable and equitable clinical models of care and pathways in complex NCDs such as cancer and mental health. R4HC-MENA will also link together regional ministries and academic centres, and key international partners, to widen the research to policy translation, and critically inform the health development agenda in other regions affected by conflict.