The Center for Humanitarian Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is pleased to announce its collaboration in a new multi-country research consortium that aims to improve maternal and newborn health in conflict-affected countries. EQUAL—Ensuring Quality Access and Learning for Mothers and Newborns in Conflict-Affected Contexts—will be led by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) alongside the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, the Center for Humanitarian Health based in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, the Somali Research and Development Institute, the Sudd Institute (South Sudan), and Université Catholique de Bukavu (Democratic Republic of Congo).
With funding provided by UK Aid from the UK government, the $11.3 million contract is one of the largest research investments to date on the topic in humanitarian contexts and will work to identify and fill evidence gaps that could ultimately improve policies, programming, and outcomes for mothers and newborns. The project will focus its research around the day of birth and the first week of life—the timeframe with the highest number of maternal and newborn deaths globally. In 2019 alone, 2.4 million babies died in the first month of life, 75% of which occurred in the first week.
“The need for practical and feasible research in the field of maternal and newborn health in conflict-affected countries is essential if we are to save more lives and improve the wellbeing of women and children in these settings. We are thrilled to be part of this new initiative that works hand-in-hand with academics in conflict-affected countries where we can all learn from one another and improve evidence-based responses on the ground,” says Paul Spiegel, MD, the co-director of the consortium and director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at the Bloomberg School.