Improving human health


Research conducted within the “Health and Societies” (SAS) Department is driven by strong synergy between the considerable international expertise of its teams and partners, and top-level technical platforms in France and in the South.

Activities are closely linked to the pressing issues of global health and the impact of global changes (climate, demographic, environmental and societal changes). They also take into account the need to reorganise health systems and their funding, as well as the challenges posed by new health threats or phenomena such as resistance to anti-infective agents 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.

Health/environment interactions in the broad sense (biodiversity, climate change, food system) and political and social systems are a cross-cutting and federating theme for the research carried out by the units. This systemic approach is at the heart of two international research groups in the South (GDRI-South) certified in 2018, as well as new seminal, interdisciplinary partnership programmes (PSIP), managed by the department..

Key figures

Flagship projects

HIV prevention in Africa

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men (MSM) was introduced in 2018 in 4 African countries via the cohMSM-PrEP cohort financed by Expertise France and the ANRS.

Prevention and management of hepatitis B in Senegal

The AmBASS project was set up in the Niakhar region of Senegal to better understand the extent and consequences of the Hepatitis-B infection on the living conditions of the populations, and to come up with adequate and effective prevention and management policies.

Liver cancer: the Peruvian exception

Scientists from the PHARMADEV unit and physicians are attempting to decipher the ins and outs of the atypical epidemiology of liver cancer in Peru, where young people are particularly affected by the disease.

Launch of the Deworm3 programme on intestinal worms in Benin, Malawi and India

The purpose of this project is to examine the possibility of stopping the transmission of 3 intestinal worms (roundworms, hookworms and whipworms) by modifying the WHO’s strategy which advocates the mass treatment of school-age children.


  • The Napneung programme

    The Napneung programme, deployed by the PHPT UMI and aiming at facilitating access to HIV, syphilis and viral hepatitis B and C diagnosis, received very positive feedback from Expertise France in August 2018. The UMI secured additional funding for 2019 (€1.25 million).

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  • Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Frédérique Vidal, French minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, conveyed her warmest congratulations to the TRANSVIHMI UMI on characterising the circulating strain in just a few days, making it possible to initiate vaccination campaigns.

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  • Second international conference of the WIN network

    Organised by IRD and Duke-NUS in Singapore from 1st to 3rd October 2018, the second international conference of the WIN network (Worldwide Insecticide resistance Network) brought together 150 participants.

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  • Official launch of Vectopôle Sud

    Vectopôle Sud is a Montpellier-based network, unique in Europe, on arthropods of medical, veterinary and agricultural importance.

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  • The “Regulations, Markets, Health” international symposium

    The “Regulations, Markets, Health: reviewing current issues with medicinal products in Africa” international symposium, organised as part of the GLOBALMED programme, brought together 150 participants at the Ouidah Regional Public Health Institute in Benin.

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  • Plenary meeting of the Francophone network on neglected tropical diseases

    This event, organised in Montpellier, brought together 130 participants from 15 different countries.

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And in the future?

In 2019, the department will continue its action by staying focused on its three research priorities:

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

Interdisciplinary cooperation with other IRD scientific departments is growing: in accordance with the roadmap of the “Global Changes & Emerging Infectious Risks” PSIP drawn up in 2018, an initial wide-reaching activity was scheduled in 2019, with the organisation of multidisciplinary training in epidemic response in Guinea (Conakry); other capacity building actions are under consideration.

In addition, 2019 will see the launch of the “Food systems for the sustainable development and well-being of populations” PSIP. Finally, with the implementation of a community of practice on interventional research, a topic that IRD has been advocating for 2 years, a reflection and the construction of a research group are emerging on the subject of the “impact of the environment on health”, particularly in terms of contaminants.