SENEGAL: Collaboration to fight parasite diseases

The University of Gaston Berger of Saint-Louis and the Senegalese non-governmental organisation Espoir pour la Santé have signed a higher education and research agreement for collaboration in the health sciences, with priority given to fighting malaria and schistosomia.

The collaboration, signed at the end of April, is based on a "multidisciplinary approach with an international dimension for integrated, operational and applied research", reported Sud Quotidien of Dakar.

Mary Teuw Niane, rector of the University of Gaston Berger, said the first objective of the agreement was the "acquisition, exchange, distribution and preservation of knowledge concerning a wide range of scientific disciplines developed at regional and national level".

The Senegalese NGO Espoir de la Santé (which translates as "Hope for Health") brings together scientists, doctors, nurses, engineers and technicians dedicated to fighting the parasitic diseases malaria and schistosomia, which afflict the inhabitants of the Senegal river valley.

It was set up after the Institute Pasteur of Lille carried out an investigation in 1990 in the Saint-Louis region into outbreaks of intestinal schistosomia, a snail-hosted disease caused by flukes, at the request of the Senegalese authorities and the French Nord-Pas de Calais region.

Espoir has since grown and has carried out over 50 joint Senegalese-French research programmes in the river valley, and has helped the Senegalese government set up its national anti-schistosomia plan. It operates with support from the World Health Organization, European Union, the French Foreign Ministry and Nord-Pas de Calais region.

It is currently part of a team with Inserm, the French health and medical institute, and the Institute Pasteur of Lille which is developing a vaccine against urinary schistosomia for children.

As well as its future collaboration with the University Gaston Berger, it is an active member of the doctoral school of UCAD, the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar.