Delivering infectious disease interventions to women and children in conflict settings: A systematic review

Sarah Meteke, Marianne Stefopulos, Daina Als, Michelle F. Gaffey, Mahdis Kamali, Fahad J. Siddiqui, Mariella Munyuzangabo, Reena P. Jain, Shailja Shah, Amruta Radhakrishnan, Anushka Ataullahjan, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background Conflict has played a role in the large-scale deterioration of health systems in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) and increased risk of infections and outbreaks. This systematic review aimed to synthesise the literature on mechanisms of delivery for a range of infectious disease-related interventions provided to conflict-affected women, children and adolescents. Methods We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL and PsychINFO databases for literature published in English from January 1990 to March 2018. Eligible publications reported on conflict-affected neonates, children, adolescents or women in LMICs who received an infectious disease intervention. We extracted and synthesised information on delivery characteristics, including delivery site and personnel involved, as well as barriers and facilitators, and we tabulated reported intervention coverage and effectiveness data. Results A majority of the 194 eligible publications reported on intervention delivery in sub-Saharan Africa. Vaccines for measles and polio were the most commonly reported interventions, followed by malaria treatment. Over two-thirds of reported interventions were delivered in camp settings for displaced families. The use of clinics as a delivery site was reported across all intervention types, but outreach and community-based delivery were also reported for many interventions. Key barriers to service delivery included restricted access to target populations; conversely, adopting social mobilisation strategies and collaborating with community figures were reported as facilitating intervention delivery. Few publications reported on intervention coverage, mostly reporting variable coverage for vaccines, and fewer reported on intervention effectiveness, mostly for malaria treatment regimens. Conclusions Despite an increased focus on health outcomes in humanitarian crises, our review highlights important gaps in the literature on intervention delivery among specific subpopulations and geographies. This indicates a need for more rigorous research and reporting on effective strategies for delivering infectious disease interventions in different conflict contexts. PROSPERO registration number CRD42019125221.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001967
JournalBMJ Global Health
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2020


  • child health
  • infections, diseases, disorders, injuries
  • maternal health
  • systematic review
  • vaccines


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