Hot Topic: Gauging the effects of civil conflicts on health and mental health
Civil conflicts are common across the globe and can have severe consequences for health in general, including mental health, amongst other social, economic, developmental as well as strategic short- and long-term consequences. Yet this topic is a newly emerging field in epidemiology. Until recently, there were few rigorous studies, conducted in a small number of countries. Now there is a surge in such studies, and in parallel, our understanding of the appropriate methods for performing them is advancing rapidly. The three speakers in this symposium will offer a working definition of “civil conflict” and highlight novel approaches used to study its effects. Taken together, their talks will offer a picture of the current state of this field in epidemiology; span different parts of the globe by including countries in subSaharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Eastern Mediterranean region; consider effects at multiple levels, including societal (e.g. disruption of education and health services), community, family, and individual; show how health and mental health effects are inextricably intertwined; and examine the potential for mitigating these effects. Of note, civil conflicts are considered major barriers to completing global polio eradication, the focus of a second “Hot Topics” symposium. This symposium also intersects well with the third “Hot Topics” symposium, “No global health without mental health”.