Wesam (right) with a member of a mothers' group in Nepal
Early Career Researcher spotlight – Wesam Mansour
24 May 2023
As part of a new series on ReBUILD for Resilience’s early career researchers we catch up with Dr Wesam Mansour from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Hi, Wesam. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your roll within ReBUILD.
Hi, sure. I’m a researcher associate at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine at the Department of International Public Health. For ReBUILD I coordinate the work with our country partners, particularly those in Lebanon.
In Lebanon I’m working on studies like our close-to-community (CTC) follow-on study where we look at the impact of gender norms and power relations on CTC providers and their work, and the support they need from the health system, from the community and from their families to be able to do their jobs.
I’m also working on a study in Yemen where we will be looking at the resilience capacities of health workers during the prolonged conflict in the country. We are interested in the adaptive measures or coping mechanisms that they have developed to be able to do their work at the emergency departments of two hospitals.
I also co-chair the Gender, Equity and Justice Working Group. There we are trying to mainstream gender, equity and justice throughout the programme’s research activities.
I understand that you’re also involved in the learning site in Lebanon.
Yes, I work closely with the Lebanon team on both the learning site and the CTC study. At the learning site we work with the local health partners in Majdal Anjar to strengthen the local health system and its resilience capacities. One of the interventions we have developed is the establishment of the Municipality Health Committee which has representation from all local health partners. Once we had developed the terms of reference for the committee, we trained the members and built their capacities in the concepts of health systems resilience, on qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, and then on strategic planning; they had a problem with coordination and planning at the municipality and wanted to take over the absent role of the Ministry of Health there and strengthen governance at the local health system level. Then we supported them in developing a strategic plan which is being implemented right now.
What do you enjoy about working at ReBUILD?
I like the coordination aspect, especially when I’m working in or with a country in the Middle East or the eastern Mediterranean region where I bring in my cultural background [Wesam is from Egypt], and speak with the team in Arabic. I feel closer to the team and that I am building a strong relationship with them. Also, the local health partners at the municipality in Lebanon appreciate that I speak their language and share cultural references, and that strengthens our relationship and communication.
I like the connections that I’ve made with researchers all over the world. We are working across four countries with totally different contexts. I have to be open to those different cultures and how researchers operate within different health systems and cultural contexts. This is really nice. Also, as ReBUILD runs a Responsive Fund we are working outside the four main contexts, so I’m currently working with colleagues in Yemen and hope to submit an application to work in Turkey. So, it’s all about being open to other cultures and other experiences.
Can you tell me a little bit about the early career researcher group?
Yeah, I’m early career researcher – this is my first researcher job following my PhD – and so it has been really nice to come across and be able to work with many other early career researchers in the consortium. We came up with the idea of having a working group where we can discuss our challenges, how can we strengthen our role in the programme, what resources we need and what support can get from other researchers. We held our first meeting during the consortium workshop in Nepal last year and we have taken it from there. We have since met regularly and are currently working closely with the Gender, Equity and Justice Working Group on a new study about justice in health policy and system research. One of the areas that we lacked experience in is the concept of justice and how we can differentiate between justice and equity in a health system. We are planning to conduct a rapid literature review to identify and explore these concepts, and from there run an empirical study where we can engage researchers from the four contexts to study the concepts in their different health systems. This is a good collaboration and I think it will be a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship between researchers in the consortium.
That’s great – thanks!