Dr. Sasha Fahme Awarded NIH K01 Grant for Implementation Science Research Among Syrian Refugee Women Living in Lebanon

The Center for Global Health is pleased to share that Dr. Sasha Fahme, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, has received the NIH Fogarty International Center K01 International Scientist Research Development Award to continue her work with Syrian refugee women in Lebanon.

Over the last five years, Dr. Fahme’s research has focused on studying the impact of conflict and displacement on Syrian refugee women’s health in Lebanon. While Dr. Fahme’s preliminary research demonstrates that Syrian refugee women are eager to learn about sexual and reproductive health and engage in long-term care in community health settings, there are major unmet sexual and reproductive health needs, including inadequately characterized genital infections. Current guidelines may not sufficiently address genital infection recurrence in this population, underscoring the urgent need for tailored prevention and management strategies.

In her project, titled “Genital Infection Symptoms Among Syrian Refugee Women in Lebanon: A Mixed-Methods Study to Adapt, Pilot Test, and Preliminarily Evaluate an Evidence-Based Intervention”, Dr. Fahme aims to first quantify and characterize genital infection recurrence in this population using mixed-methods methodology. Then, she will systematically adapt, pilot-test, and evaluate an evidence-based intervention to address genital infection recurrence among rural-dwelling Syrian refugee women. Dr. Fahme aims to adapt the Dia del Mercado Project, an evidence-based intervention which improved cervical cancer screening among indigenous Peruvian women living in the rural Andes Mountains and confronted similar barriers to sexual and reproductive healthcare. For her project, Dr. Fahme envisions piloting a community health worker-led program that incorporates both a mobile clinic model for genital infection screening, as well as community-based education for men and women, to reduce stigma and improve access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.

Dr. Fahme’s work is not only significant for its immediate impact but also for its broader public health implications. Syrian refugee women represent one of the largest, most vulnerable forcibly displaced groups globally, and are understudied. Through rigorous mixed-methods and implementation science methodologies, the project aims to confront the drivers of recurrent genital infections and barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health care among Syrian refugee women. These insights will be instrumental in developing contextualized, evidence-based sexual health interventions for displaced women in similar contexts globally.

Article by Misha Hooda

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