The Research for Health in Conflict (R4HC-MENA) Executive Board meeting was held in Ankara, Turkey on the 12th and 13th December 2018 and was hosted by Hacettepe University.  The meeting was attended by 35 participants from the R4HC-MENA partner institutions; King’s College London, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, King Hussein Cancer Center, Birzeit University, American University of Beirut, and Hacettepe University. The programme is moving into its second year, focusing on sustainability and how to expand networks and core infrastructure.

The meeting provided an ideal opportunity for researchers from diverse interdisciplinary areas such as public health, oncology, clinical psychiatry, pharmacy, sociology, psychology, health economics, and global health to share their research work in conflict affected regions. Proposals on new areas of work were presented. These included: Professor Şevkat Bahar Özvarış on Hacettepe University’s Research and Implementation Center on Women’s Issues, focusing on strengthening access to sexual and reproductive health and sexual and gender-based violence services for Syrian and other refugees through Women and Girl Safe Spaces (WGSS); Professor Cengiz Kılıç from Hacettepe University discussed an epidemiological study on the mental health profiles of Syrian refugees in Turkey; Dr Houssam Alnahas from the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations (UOSSM), R4HC Co-Investigator Dr Preeti Patel and R4HC Research Associate Dr Abdulkarim Ekzayez presented on Syrian mobile health clinics, and; Professor Rita Giacaman discussed mental health in adolescents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, taking a public health approach.

The Mental Health, Political Economy, Cancer, and Conflict and Health working group sessions provided an excellent platform to exchange ideas among different partner institutes and discuss research partnership for future projects in these areas.

A Children’s Palliative Care Outcome Scale (C-POS) survey training session was conducted by Co-Investigator Professor Richard Harding and Research Associate Dr Ping Guo. It was attended by the palliative care working group from Jordan and Turkey. The need for childhood palliative care for terminally ill cancer cases was explained. Research methodology as well as survey technique for the pediatric phase I qualitative study protocol was explained. The training was very interactive and was successful in qualitative research capacity building among participants.

A keynote lecture was delivered by Professor Richard Sullivan, which was hosted by the Faculty of Medicine at Hacettepe University. This was part of a guest speaker programme.  The topic of the lecture was “Delivering affordable and equitable care over the next decade”.  The lecture was attended by the Rector of the University, Professor Dr Haluk Özen, and the Dean of the Medical School, Professor Dr. Bülent Altun. It was also attended by many faculty members, resident doctors, interns, and students. The lecture was very thoughtful and was an excellent addition to the Faculty of Medicine’s guest lecturer series.

The Rector of the University, Professor Dr Haluk Özen, hosted a dinner for guests at ‘Beyaz Ev’ Faculty Club located at ‘Beytepe’ campus at Hacettepe, at which guests were welcomed with the first snowfall of the season in Ankara.

The meeting was a great success and we sincerely thank all those who contributed to the Executive Board meeting in Ankara.


Dr Fahad Ahmad
Programme Manager, Hacettepe University