The HEART Helpdesk is a rapid response research service synthesising relevant evidence to address specific policy questions. Our reports provide a brief literature review, including summaries and comments from subject experts.

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Local beliefs and behaviour change for preventing Ebola in Sierra Leone

‘The Ebola epidemic ravaging parts of West Africa is the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times.  Never before in recorded history has a biosafety level four pathogen infected so many people so quickly, over such a broad geographical area, for so long’ (Margaret Chan, 26th September 2014, WHO). This report focuses [...]

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Delivery of education at scale to large refugee and conflict affected populations

A close-up of a desk and books inside a classroom at Oumoul Mouminina School in Forobaranga, West Darfur, Sudan

General findings of this helpdesk report include: There is a risk that host countries may not allow refugees access to public education, particularly if the government is under pressure to deliver services to their own citizens. Restrictions on refugee employment may entrench poverty, which in turn dampens prospects for education. Armed conflict is diverting public [...]

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Increasing facility-based deliveries and providing referral transport for women in childbirth in Asia

Baby is tended to by medical staff, Cambodia

Approaches to increasing facility based births: Eliminating user fees and voucher schemes have been found to improve facility-based delivery rates. A systems approach was found to increase facility-based deliveries in the Philippines. The strategy prioritised the creation of community-based women’s health teams. Payment to a trained birth assistant within a health team incentivised referral to [...]

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Nutrition interventions in developing and fragile contexts with a focus on community interventions and Yemen

Girl preparing food in Yemen

This was an extensive query to tackle in 3 days. The result is an annotated bibliography covering a selection of key papers identified through a rapid search on the different nutrition interventions. Section 2 includes a number of resources on community-based management with evaluations finding it to be cost effective. Sections 3-5 are on breastfeeding, [...]

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Global Health Architecture: current and future

Operating theatre, Eastern Cape, South Africa

DFID is mapping the current health architecture and identifying drivers that will influence the future architecture from 2015. This report was prepared to inform DFID on the strengths and weaknesses of the current global health architecture, and of the relevance and responsive of the health architecture for the post 2015 agenda. This work looks at [...]

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National- and district-level funding in the health sector

Medical equipment on table after earthquake, Pakistan

Contact with health financing experts and a rapid literature search found no research that compares district level and national level donor funding. The literature suggests that effectiveness of funding at the national level is likely to depend on how well central funds are disbursed and on the capacity of local services receiving the funds. In [...]

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Empowerment of communities and individuals for greater health self-reliance

Community members participate in discussions, India

Current levels of human resources are not enough to meet the health Millennium Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage. There is growing recognition that human resources beyond a trained health workforce can be considered as ‘assets’ and be utilised to achieve these goals. Community Health Workers (CHWs) and other Front-Line Health Workers can provide a [...]

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Different Funding Modalities for Health – Update

Health care worker points to a chart showing the falling HIV prevalence rate, Rwanda

Key findings include: Sector budget support has generated some impressive results in the health field in the East Africa context. General budget support (GBS) increases the budget allocation for the health sector more than tax revenue does. However, the effect of government health expenditure on health indicators is not necessarily improved by the introduction of [...]

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Scholarships: the impact and effectiveness for disadvantaged children and girls

School children show off work, India

This report outlines a number of different scholarship, stipend and cash transfer programmes (CCTs). Evidence on the effectiveness and impact is mixed. Most programmes increase enrolments but the impact on learning is less clear. Programmes that aimed to get girls into schools were successful in that aim. Scholarship programmes that target the poor generally have [...]

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Prioritising health activities in humanitarian crises

Women and children in Sudan

The Sphere Humanitarian Charter states that: All people should have access to health services that are prioritised to address the main causes of excess mortality and morbidity.  There are a number of handbooks to aid prioritisation in crisis situations (highlighted in section 2 of this report): The Johns Hopkins and Red Cross Red Crescent public [...]

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