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Institute for International Programs


IMPROVED humanitarian measures
Photo courtesy of Center for Humanitarian Health 

Improved public health measures and Lives Saved Tool
in humanitarian settings

LiSTImproved Public health measures and Lives Saved Tool in humanitarian settings

The magnitude, severity and protracted nature of humanitarian emergencies continues to grow in numerous countries. Extensive needs, limited access due to insecurity and often insufficient resources hamper the capacity of the humanitarian community to help the affected communities.

Reliable and timely information on the health status of and services provided to conflict-affected populations is crucial to establish public health priorities, needs, mobilize funds, and monitor performance of the humanitarian response. 

Within the Improve project, Johns Hopkins’ faculty of the Center for Humanitarian Health aims to contribute to the ongoing efforts to improve public health information in emergencies by addressing two key challenges: 1) the development of a tool to choose effective interventions to save lives in refuges camps and 2) the definition of feasible and sound public health indicators for different humanitarian contexts.

Humanitarian Lives Saved Tool H-List

Overall Aim

Effectiveness of interventions and their cost effectiveness in humanitarian settings are extremely important given the increasing number, magnitude and complexity of emergencies combined with scarce and precious funding. Guidance on which humanitarian interventions will save the largest number of persons’ lives at the most effective cost by level of resources available currently does not exist.

A tool that would allow humanitarians to choose effective interventions to save the lives of the largest number of refugees at the lowest cost according to existing services, or which interventions to add or stop according to changes in funding, and availability of resources locally, would have a profound effect on improving humanitarian response and saving the lives of refugees and other affected persons in humanitarian settings.

Focus Areas

  1. Identify most relevant interventions for refugee camp settings and assess availability of data
  2. Adapt the Lives Saved Tool for use in different refugee settings
  3. Explore how to add a cost effectiveness component. 

Robust and Measurable Public Health Indicators for Humanitarian Emergencies according to Context

Overall Aim

Measuring the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance is challenging and fraught with difficulty, particularly in non-camp settings. Populations are difficult to reach so that both numerators and denominators are often only an estimate; standardization of measurements is limited due to wide range of actors and services provided; each conflict setting is unique, so that no “one fit all” solution exists.

Yet, assessing the health status of conflict affected populations and the level/quality of services provided in a given area is necessary to decide whether the situation is being contained or requires additional interventions; and secondly, to gauge whether the assistance provided is attaining the expected results.

Building upon existing initiatives, this project aims to develop and pilot a set of core public health indicators to be measured according to different contexts, capacities and expertise. 

Focus Areas

  1. Develop a standardized methodology to assess soundness, feasibility and usefulness of existing public health indicators 
  2. Field pilot the suggested indicators in different crisis settings: Syria and Lebanon; Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan
  3. Develop an operational guide on measurement methods and performance analysis.  


The Humanitarian Lives Saved Tool (H-LiST) provides evidence-based recommendations on which maternal and child health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions, at specified coverage levels, can save the most lives. Webinar presentation. 


The Improve Project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Investment ID: OPP1172551