MSF Scientific Days: exploring innovative solutions in humanitarian healthcare

This blog was authored by Animesh Sinha, Chronic and infectious diseases advisor, MSF
MSF Scientific Days: exploring innovative solutions in humanitarian healthcare
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Delivering essential medical care to populations in need remains a primary focus for humanitarian organisations like Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who provide critical assistance in challenging settings. Often confronted with uncertainties and rapidly changing environments, we grapple with the urgent need for evidence-based approaches and tools to optimise care delivery. We find ourselves asking these questions: do we know what works and, more importantly, how to deploy these solutions where needed? 

The first session of this year's MSF Scientific Days will delve into the journey of evidence generation and its practical application in addressing health challenges in humanitarian settings. 

Malaria, a disease causing significant morbidity and mortality in many countries, is prone to seasonal outbreaks that frequently catch us unprepared. To enhance our readiness, MSF teams initiated a malaria anticipation project aimed at developing predictive early warning systems by leveraging historical data and cutting-edge tools such as machine learning. Additionally, we will explore the development of an innovative solution to address the lack of access to diagnostic tests for detecting antimicrobial resistance. Moreover, efforts to tailor treatment for eumycetoma, a neglected tropical disease, based on individual patient contexts will be highlighted. 

Recognising the scarcity of data regarding the costs associated with conducting advanced clinical trials, MSF will present the costing analysis of TB-PRACTECAL—a randomised controlled phase II-III clinical trial aimed at identifying a safer, shorter, and more effective treatment regimen for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. This examination aims to stimulate discussions on the feasibility and necessity of investing in evidence generation within organisations like MSF. 

Our Keynote Speech will be provided by Alex de Waal, Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University, with a focus on conflict, famine, and health, challenging MSF on where we should focus our work, our voice, and importantly our research. And a panel discussion led by Leslie Roberts, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, will delve into the complexities of mortality assessment, exploring it’s broader implications. 

This year, MSF Scientific Days will be held in London on 16 May and will showcase medical research from fragile and conflict-affected environments.  Not only does this year mark the 20th anniversary of the conference, but 2024 also marks significant milestones in humanitarian crises: 40 years since the famine in Ethiopia, 30 years since the genocide in Rwanda, and 10 years since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa—all pivotal events that have profoundly influenced MSF's operational strategies. Throughout the conference, we will reflect on how our research has shaped and enhanced our approach to delivery of care, advancing our medical mission. 

You can attend online or in person. Further information about the agenda and how to register can be found here: https://www.msf.org.uk/content/msf-scientific-days 

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