Improving human health


The research conducted in the Health and Societies department is closely connected with the priority issues of world health, the impact of global changes (climate, demographic, environmental), the necessary revision of health systems and their funding, and the challenges posed by the new health threats or phenomena such as resistance to anti-infectives and insecticides. These are a key part of the global health strategy in France, and require a one health approach based on strong interdisciplinary interactions.

Research surrounding health/environment interactions in the broad sense (biodiversity, climate change, food system) and political and social systems is therefore a cross-cutting and federating area for the different disciplines represented in the department. It is increasingly perceived according to a systemic approach, necessitated by changes in epidemiological models, and economic and environmental imperatives.

To make this research successful, the department uses high-level technical platforms in France and the South, and relies on the great international expertise of its teams, as well as on a very solid network of partners.

Key figures

Flagship projects

First mass sequencing of the mosquito genome in natural populations

The work of a scientific consortium lifts the veil on the malaria-carrying mosquito genome. Its high genetic polymorphism sheds light on the rapid development and propagation of insecticide resistance. It could also complicate genetic combat strategies.

Ebola survivors: life after the virus

The long-term clinical and social consequences of Ebola infection are unknown. IRD and Inserm, with the infectious diseases department of the Donka University Hospital in Conakry (Guinea), organised medical monitoring of people who had survived the infection, as part of a large research cohort. This study allowed the researchers to define what they now call post-Ebola syndrome.

A new treatment strategy for onchocerciasis

An international study co-ordinated by IRD and the Research centre for filariases and other tropical diseases (CRFilMT, Cameroon), shows the efficacy of a new mass treatment strategy for onchocerciasis in central Africa.

Cholera epidemic in Haiti

With around 100 cases per week, Haiti has never been so close to eliminating the cholera epidemic. Seven years after the epidemic began, joint research unit 912 SESSTIM is still engaged in this combat, in partnership with Unicef, APHM, and the Pierre Louis Public Health Institute, in service of the Haitian authorities.


  • The QUARITE project receives the H2020 Birthday Prize

    The European institutions awarded 1 000 000 € to the QUARITE project on infantile health in Senegal and in Mali led by Alexandre Dumont (CEPED).

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  • Launch of the Infravec2

    La Commission européenne a officiellement donné son feu vert au projet Infravec2 (Infrastructures de recherche pour le contrôle des maladies vectorielles) qui a pour objectif d’améliorer les installations européennes de grande envergure destinées à la recherche sur les moustiques et autres vecteurs qui transmettent des maladies.

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  • 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science

    IRD participated in the 9th scientific conference on HIV (IAS on 2017) organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the ANRS in Paris from 23 till 26 July 2017.

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  • Snake bites high on the list of neglected tropical diseases

    La décision de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) de porter au premier niveau de la liste des maladies tropicales négligées les morsures de serpent constitue une nouvelle chance de renforcer les stratégies de prise en charge tout particulièrement en Afrique.

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  • Launch of the TB-Speed project: reducing child tuberculosis in Africa and Asia

    UNITAID et l’Initiative 5 % (Expertise France) viennent de soutenir le projet TB-Speed, qui vise à réduire la tuberculose infantile en Afrique et en Asie, en améliorant le dépistage et en facilitant l’accès au traitement.

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  • The microbiota of mosquito larvae plays a role in the capacity of adult insects to transmit human pathogens

    Des chercheurs viennent de démontrer que l’exposition à différentes bactéries au cours du développement des larves de moustiques peut influencer l'aptitude des moustiques adultes à transmettre des pathogènes humains.

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  • IRD participates in the 19th international conference on AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in Africa (ICASA)

    ICASA 2017 s'est déroulé à Abidjan en Côte d’Ivoire du 4 au 9 décembre 2017 avec pour thème « L’Afrique : une approche différente vers la fin du sida ».

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And in the future?

Three research priorities have recently been defined, in consultation with all of the research units:

  • Understand, prevent, control and eliminate infectious tropical diseases
  • Study the multiple facets of epidemiological transitions
  • Health systems, players, policies

Interdisciplinarity is being strengthened around these themes, through regular interaction with researchers from the other scientific departments of IRD.

The progressive implementation of the PSIP “Global changes and emerging infectious risks”, which aims on the one hand to strengthen surveillance and reaction capacities regarding epidemic threats, and on the other to better understand the conditions for the emergence of infectious diseases, is one illustration of this.

The department is also continuing its action to create a public health interventional research network within the Institute.