There have been significant improvements in the design and management of humanitarian aid responses in the last decade. In particular, a significant body of knowledge has been accumulated about public health interventions in emergencies, following calls for developing the evidence base of humanitarian health interventions. Several factors have prompted this, such as the increased volume of humanitarian assistance with subsequent higher levels of scrutiny on aid spending, and greater pressure for improving humanitarian aid quality and performance. However, documentation of the ability of humanitarian interventions to alleviate suffering and curb mortality remains limited. This paper argues that epidemiological studies can potentially be a useful tool for measuring the impact of health interventions in humanitarian crises. Survey methods or surveillance systems are mainly used for early warning or needs assessment and their potential for assessing the impact of aid programmes is underutilised.
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