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War and Peace in Colombia: three years on

Posted on 19 May 2021

Researchers from the University of York and Universidad de los Andes share results from 'War and Peace – the Health and Health System Consequences of Conflict in Colombia

In April 2018, CHE researchers began a collaboration with Universidad de los Andes, LSHTM and the Department of Politics, University of York for ‘War and Peace: The Health and Health System Consequences of Conflict in Colombia’. The goal of War and Peace was to investigate the consequences of long-term internal conflict for population health, the health system and post-conflict health policymaking. Less than two years on from the signing of the Peace Agreement, this was an opportunity to conduct research of immediate policy relevance, and to generate evidence and propose policies to improve the quality of life of Colombians, who have endured over five decades of conflict.

One of the key aspects of War and Peace was the idea of bringing together stakeholders and communities at all stages of the project. Engaging with policymakers and the communities impacted by the conflict was essential, allowing us to produce policy relevant and impactful research. 

Quantitative work used both datasets already available, and new data from the CONPAS household survey in Meta, designed by War and Peace researchers. The qualitative work employed focus groups with victims of the conflict and local health professionals, as well as interviews with national and local government officials, civil society representatives, NGO personnel and leaders from international organisations (such as the UN, IOM, Doctors Without Borders, and Red Cross).

As the three year project has come to an end, the team has reflected on its activities and achievements. War and Peace researchers have participated in over 30 engagement events, estimated to have reached over 6000 people. Over the final year of the project, these events changed from in-person meetings and international conferences, to virtual conferences and online events on a range of platforms. Virtual events on Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube have provided an opportunity for War and Peace to reach audiences that otherwise may not have been able to participate.

In March 2021, the team held two final dissemination events, marking the end of this three year collaboration.

Presentations in the first event - 'Health between pandemic and post-conflict: a look after the peace agreement with the FARC' - included: Access to the health system before and after the peace agreement; Health-related quality of life of a conflict-affected population in Colombia; The Effects of Conflict Violence Reduction on Pregnancy Outcomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Colombia; Mental health before and after the peace agreement; and Perceptions from the victims of the armed conflict about the peace agreement and health. The team also shared a video, which included short interviews with victims of the conflict and members of the project team: War and peace: the consequences of the armed conflict on the health of Colombians (YouTube).

A second event was held for invited policymakers and stakeholders from Colombia, including the Governor of Meta, municipal mayors, members of the Department Assembly of Meta, Secretaries of Health, and Secretaries of Human Rights, along with other local stakeholders.

This event was focussed on the department of Meta, with presentations on: Access to Health care in Meta from 2018 to 2019; Mental health situation in Meta after the peace agreement; Perceptions of health from the victims of the armed conflict after the peace agreement: Challenges and recommendations; Health-related quality of life of a conflict-affected population in Colombia; and Inequalities in Mental health after the peace agreement.

It is hoped that evidence and recommendations from War and Peace research will contribute to improving the lives of Colombians who have been, and continue to be, affected by conflict.

War and Peace Publications:

  • Leon-Giraldo, S., Casas, G., Cuervo-Sánchez, J.S., González-Uribe, C., Bernal, O., Moreno-Serra, R., & Suhrcke, M. (2021) Health in conflict zones: analyzing inequalities in mental health in Colombian conflict-affected territories. International Journal of Public Health, 66. doi: 
  • Leon-Giraldo, S., Casas, G., Cuervo-Sánchez, J.S., González-Uribe, C., Olmos, A., Kreif, N., Suhrcke, M., Bernal, O., & Moreno-Serra, R. (2021) A light of hope? Inequalities in mental health before and after the peace agreement in Colombia: a decomposition analysis. International Journal for Equity in Health 20, 39. 
  • Yang, F., Leon-Giraldo, S., & Moreno-Serra, R. (2021) Health-related quality of life of a conflict-affected population in Colombia. Quality of Life Research.
  • Leon-Giraldo, S., Casas, G., Cuervo-Sánchez, J.S., García, T., González-Uribe, C., Moreno-Serra, R., & Bernal, O. (Forthcoming) Trastornos de salud mental en población desplazada por el conflicto en Colombia: análisis comparado frente a la Encuesta Nacional de Salud Mental 2015 [Mental health disorders in population displaced by conflict in Colombia: comparative analysis against the National Mental Health Survey 2015]. Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría.
  • Kreif, N., Mirelman, A., Suhrcke, M., Buitrago, G., Moreno-Serra, R. (2020) The impact of civil conflict on child health: evidence from Colombia. HiCN working paper HiCN WP-336. Households in Conflict Network, November.
  • León-Giraldo, S., Bernal, O., González-Uribe, C., Casas, G., Cuervo-Sánchez, J.S., Olmos, A., García, T., & Moreno-Serra, R. (2020) “Acceso a salud y percepción sobre la calidad de la atención médica en el departamento del Meta: una mirada después de los acuerdos con las Farc”. Documentos de Trabajo, No. 76, Escuela de Gobierno Alberto Lleras Camargo, Universidad de Los Andes, September.