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Global Health Partnerships Identify Humanitarian Solutions for Victims of Armed Conflicts

September 27, 2018
Gillings School of Global Public Health

An interdisciplinary team of researchers and global health practitioners from North Carolina and Iraq are working to improve health services delivery to displaced Yazidi families in Iraq.

Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority who have suffered extensively during armed conflicts in Iraq. At present, most of the population remain in formal and informal displacement camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health faculty members Aunchalee Palmquist, assistant professor of maternal and child health and member of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, and Dilshad Jaff, adjunct assistant professor of maternal and child health and program coordinator for solutions to complex emergencies in the Gillings School’s Research Innovation and Global Solutions office, are key UNC partners in the research project, “Closing the Delivery Gap for Internally Displaced Mothers and Children in Fragile Contexts: Perinatal Mental Health, Infant Feeding Practices and Malnutrition in Iraq.”

Palmquist and Jaff are collaborating with lead researchers at Garmian University in Kalar, Kurdistan, Iraq, and Advance Access & Delivery (AA&D), a global health nongovernmental organization and implementing partner in the Triangle area of North Carolina.

The Yazidi population struggles with a lack of basic services, especially medical care. The mental health needs of the population are profound, but there is an almost total lack of mental health care. Unfortunately, few agencies or programs are in place to address the needs of the Yazidi women.

The researchers will gather evidence to improve the timely delivery of integrative perinatal, maternal, newborn and child services to internally displaced and historically marginalized mothers and newborns in Iraq, particularly among the Yazidi population.

A key aim of the project is to promote and ensure more creative, diverse and inclusive global health partnerships for mothers, children and their families. The study will provide critical information regarding ways to bridge critical gaps in health services delivery for exceptionally traumatized, forcibly displaced mothers and infants. The research team will develop specific action steps to improve care, using insights from affected people.

Project results will expand working knowledge of the biological, life course and inter-generational effects of genocide, gender-based violence, and displacement of complex humanitarian emergencies. The study also will elucidate the value of prioritizing maternal and infant health, an often overlooked and poorly executed area of emergency response.

Collaborators from the University of Garmian include Pegah Seidi, assistant lecturer, and Nazdar Qudrat Abas,  lecturer, both in the College of Education’s Department of Psychology. Collaborators from AA&D include Tom Nicholson, MIDP, executive director, Michael Wilson, partnerships lead, and Amanda Brumwell, program coordinator.

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