The R. Geigy Foundation honours efforts to overcome
neglected tropical diseases
Swiss TPH Giovanna Raso and Jean Coulibaly are the awardees of the R. Geigy-Award 2016 and will share a CHF 20,000 prize in honour of their efforts to fight neglected helminth infections in West Africa.
To commemorate the spirit and the achievements of Rudolf Geigy, the founder of the Swiss Tropical Institute, the R. Geigy Foundation confers the prize every second year to distinguished young scholars in the field of tropical and neglected diseases.
More than a billion people worldwide are exposed to infections with hookworms, whipworms or flukes. These infections cause diarrhoea, fever, liver disease or anaemia and constitute a considerable health burden, especially for children living in low-income countries. Yet, worldwide, only a few research grants are available to fight these nasty parasites. Researchers, Giovanna Raso and Jean Coulibaly, seek to overcome this situation by better understanding the epidemiology of helminth infections and other poverty-related diseases and by developing novel diagnostics and therapies. The R. Geigy Foundation honours the achievements of the two scientists with a prize worth CHF 20,000. “With their work, Giovanna Raso and Jean Coulibaly are role models for working in a transcultural context. They actively contribute to reducing the disease burden and to strengthening the health of many people and therefore pursue the vision of Rudolf Geigy”, says Marcel Tanner, president of the R. Geigy Foundation.
Latrines, Hygiene and Neglected Worm Infections
Dr. Giovanna Raso is an epidemiologist who explores new ways to improve the health of rural populations in Côte d’Ivoire. In her research, she focuses on helminth infections and on improving water and sanitation. For instance, she developed an animated movie to convey hygiene and sanitation information to children and adults in a playful way. Her latest research project analyses the combined influence of chemotherapy, latrine construction and health education programmes in schools. Raso’s work provides the backbone for evidence-based health recommendations offered by WHO, among others. Giovanna Raso obtained a PhD at the University of Basel and Swiss TPH in 2004. She now works as a project leader at Swiss TPH.
Better Diagnosis and Treatment of Bilharzia in Côte d’Ivoire
Epidemiologist, Dr. Jean Coulibaly, leads the monitoring and evaluation unit at the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques (CSRS) in Côte d’Ivoire in Western Africa. He has devoted his scientific career to better understanding the epidemiology and transmission of bilharzia and other helminth infections in his home country. He develops and evaluates novel tests for better diagnoses and explores new chemotherapies for treating helminth infections. Thanks to his research, there is a test that can quickly detect the parasite causing bilharzia in the urine. Laborious stool examinations are no longer needed. Together with the research unit of Prof. Jennifer Keiser at Swiss TPH, Coulibaly conducts clinical research to develop novel chemical compounds for the treatment of helminth infections. (Photo: Swiss TPH)