Population health


With regard to the major health issues covered by the Sustainable Development Goals, the aim of IRD’s ‘Health and Societies’ department is to contribute to efforts to improve the health of populations in the Global South.

The work done combines two complementary aspects of research: improving knowledge and conducting research projects on the one hand, and intervention or operational research with a direct impact on populations and support for control programmes on the other.

The focus is on a multidisciplinary approach, combining biomedical sciences with human and social sciences.

Key figures

Flagship scientific projects

A global consortium receives €12 million to fight the Zika virus

ZIKAlliance, a multidisciplinary, multinational research consortium, received €12 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to conduct an extensive three-year project on infection by the Zika virus (ZIKV) in Latin America and the Caribbean. IRD is a partner in this project.

Discovery of an ‘immune’ system in giant viruses

IRD researchers and their partners have highlighted the existence of a system of defence among giant viruses – or giruses – capable of preventing the infection of the latter by virophage viruses (viruses that can infect other viruses).

A more harmful illness than originally believed

Loiasis, the parasitic infection predominantly found in central Africa, is not as benign as first thought. Highly infected people may in fact have reduced life expectancy. This is the finding of a new study, conducted by IRD and its partners in Cameroon with support from the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), covering more than 3,000 people.

Enriched rice: twice as many intestinal parasitic infections in children

A vast study, run as part of a partnership and involving 10,000 children in Cambodia, revealed that the consumption of rice enriched with vitamins and minerals doubles the risk of infection of a small intestinal worm. This parasitic disease can affect health.

  • Launch of the Aviesan French-language network on neglected tropical diseases

  • First session of the CBID summer school (Computational Biology for Infectious Diseases).

  • First trial of phase 1b of a vaccine against malaria in pregnant women

    Coordinated by the UMR Merit research unit, this phase 1b trial runs until mid-2017 and the initial results are satisfactory.

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  • Foundation of the CERFIG

    Alongside the various projects on the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, a centre for research and training in infectiology (CERFIG) was set up on the medical faculty campus, in collaboration with the infectious and tropical diseases department National Donka Hospital and the University of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Conakry.

And in the future ?

When it comes to health, a change of approach is necessary in light of the epidemiological transition (rapid development of chronic and non-transmissible diseases) but also due to environmental and economic imperatives: we need to move on from a ‘disease’ based approach to a much more ‘systemic’ approach (reflected in the one health concept). In this respect, research into interactions between health and environment in the widest sense (biodiversity, climate change, food system optimisation) and the functioning of healthcare systems will be stepped up.

IRD’s work will focus on two areas as a priority:

  • surveillance, preparation and response to epidemic threats
  • access to quality care and treatment