The aim of this work stream is to provide systematic and empirically grounded research capacity in the political economy of health in conflict in MENA countries, particularly around methods to examine the historical development and policies of their health systems, and the current role of government, the private sector, international donors and humanitarian agencies.
The Syrian conflict and humanitarian crisis has affected almost all countries of the MENA region but has had particularly profound effects on immediate neighbours. This new context of crisis requires deepened knowledge about the political economy in the region, guiding the formation of new health policies particularly in NCDs such as cancer and mental health. A recent analysis of health in the MENA region highlights the key problems of ignoring political economy approaches in understanding health concerns. In addition to the increasing NCD burden, the region has long suffered from a sustained under-investment in both public health systems and health research. Powerful actors with vested interests—governments, donors, NGOs and the private sector — shape national health agendas, including the formation of social protection systems. However, the research capacity to conduct programs that can inform evidence-based policies is severely lacking. There is an urgent need to design and build multi-sectoral responses based on evidence generated within the MENA region. The project will incorporate multidisciplinary research capacity approaches across policy sectors, such as ministries of development, labour, social affairs and public health.