ANNUAL REPORT 2020
ANNUAL REPORT 2020
WHAT’S INSIDE 3 Preface 6 Future Perspectives 10 Facts & Figures 17 In Retrospect 24 Insights 33 Our Impact 37 Committees & Departments 47 Finances
“More than ever, we need to take a holistic perspective on human health” In this historic and transformative year that was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, never before has our mission – to make the world a healthier place – been more vital. Few of us could have foreseen the toll that COVID-19 would take on people’s health and well-being in all corners of the world. The pandemic will be remembered as one of the greatest challenges that we collectively faced as a society, but also as an era that heralded in immense scientific advancement and unprecedented international collaboration. As of May 2021, 150 million people were diagnosed with COVID-19, there have been over three million deaths, and likely many more cases and deaths have gone unnoticed. In many parts of the world, health systems have been overburdened and economies strained. Access to education has been interrupted for millions of children, poverty increased globally and the inequality gap widened. The enormous progress made in global health over the past 20 years regressed within mere months. Despite the devastating effects of the pandemic, there is a silver lining: the power of science and partnership has moved mountains in 2020. Within one year, approximately 100 COVID-19 vaccines reached various stages of clinical development and several of these vaccines successfully completed large phase III clinical trials and
are now distributed to millions of people every day. Society has seen a major commitment from health and social workers, inter-agency collaboration and high-levels of leadership from countries coming together to leverage their experiences. Communities have also come together like never before to support one another during these exceptional times. Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), however, lag behind when it comes to access to essential interventions such diagnostics, protective equipment and vaccines. The strong domestic and international focus on COVID-19 also poses a risk that other diseases, particularly poverty-related infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and parasitic worm infections, become even more neglected. There is a pressing need for global action in order to mitigate the public health impact of the pandemic, especially for populations in LMICs (Read about the collateral damage of COVID-19 on pages 28 – 30). More than ever, we need to take a holistic perspective on human health – as we do at Swiss TPH. The coronavirus knows no borders: in the blink of an eye, it crossed the globe from China to Chile, from South Africa to Switzerland. Equitable access to diagnostics and vaccines is therefore not only a matter of solidarity, but also an act of common sense and self-protection,
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Preface because COVID-19 anywhere means COVID-19 everywhere (Read more about Swiss TPH’s contribution to COVID-19 relief efforts on pages 24 – 27). While public health measures such as social distancing, facemasks and lockdowns may have fended off SARS-CoV-2, they have simultaneously given rise to mental health issues and increased social inequality. One of our local projects, COVCO-Basel, studied the impact of the pandemic on mental health and conducted a seroprevalence study with over 10,000 participants. This visionary project, which was supported by the cantonal governments and the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), will lay the groundwork for an innovative, digital cohort in Switzerland (Read more about the project on page 26). I am particularly proud that at Swiss TPH – in addition to our considerable efforts to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic – we were able to continue with our manifold activities in research, education and services, which is evident in our portfolio of over 300 active projects. Throughout all of our projects, we are committed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a particular emphasis on SDG 3 “Ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” (See page 15). Tackling major global health issues requires an interdisciplinary approach and working handin-hand with partners – which is why we are pleased to work within research partnerships on these projects in not only Basel, Switzerland, but also in over 130 additional countries. Recently, we have reaffirmed our commitment to improving the health and well-being of people – locally, nationally and internationally – with our new strategy 2021 – 2024. This has resulted in a considerable increase of funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), as well as from the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft, and will enable us to better fulfil our mission of making the world a healthier place (Read more about this pivotal funding increase in the interview with Basel Cantonal Councillors Monica Gschwind and Conradin Cramer on pages 6 – 8).
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It is my pleasure to share that we are well ontrack in regards to our upcoming move to the new Swiss TPH headquarters ‘Belo Horizonte’ in Allschwil, Switzerland. Thanks to the excellent work of the project team, committees, architects and numerous partners, we are rapidly approaching the day that we will work together under one roof. At the heart of this report lies the commitment and dedication of our staff and students and the tireless support of our partners and funders all over the world. Despite the adversity and uncertainty we faced in 2020, we can be proud of what we achieved as an institute. Hence, I would like to wholeheartedly thank you all for your solidarity, perseverance and enthusiasm. Together, we will come out of this crisis stronger and continue to make strides towards our mission of making the world a healthier place.
Prof. Dr. Jürg Utzinger Director, Swiss TPH
→ Swiss TPH employees visit the new Swiss TPH headquarters ‘Belo Horizonte’ in Allschwil.
→ Jürg Utzinger (left) and Stefan Mörgeli (right) at the topping out ceremony of ‘Belo Horizonte’ in Allschwil, Switzerland on 19 June 2020.
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FUTURE PERSPECTIVES “Swiss TPH is a Problemsolving Institute” Cantonal Councillors Monica Gschwind and Conradin Cramer from the Basel Cantons are united in their support of Swiss TPH as a prosperous hub for research and innovation in north western Switzerland. We invited them for a conversation about bi-cantonal education and research funding and the pressing social problems of tomorrow. For more than a year now, virtual meetings have been an integral part of our everyday working life. Monica Gschwind, Cantonal Councillor and Chair woman of the Department of Education, Culture and Sport of the Canton Basel-Landschaft, an swers our questions from her office in Liestal. Con radin Cramer, Cantonal Councillor and Chairman of the Department of Education of Basel-Stadt, joins us from his office in Basel. Despite this phys ical distance, there is bi-cantonal agreement on support for Swiss TPH.
Conradin Cramer: “It is the third goal for me, mutual learning, that best expresses the spirit of Swiss TPH. Mutual learning does not mean transferring knowledge from Basel to the rest of the world, but rather listening and having a keen sense of how other societies deal with health problems. The spirit of exchange and the enormous amount of idealism are, for me, the unique selling points of Swiss TPH. Of course, this is not possible without excellent science and taking this science to impact.”
In Swiss TPH’s new strategy (2021 – 2024), we define three strategic goals: excellence in science; taking science to impact; and mutual learning for sustainable development. Which of these goals are you most passionate about?
In October 2020, the governments of Basel-Landschaft and Basel-Stadt decided to increase their annual core funding from CHF 3.63 million each to CHF 4 million, which results in a total of CHF 8 million per year. Why is there such a mutual commitment to Swiss TPH?
Monica Gschwind: “For me, this is clearly the second goal, because research should also have an impact. Swiss TPH is a prime example of an institute that works from innovation to the vali dation of new findings and the implementation of research results. Research must have a posi tive effect on healthcare for neglected popula tion groups. Here, Swiss TPH has an impressive track record on prevention and treatments of infectious diseases, chronic diseases and on strengthening health systems.”
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Monica Gschwind: “If we want Swiss TPH to be able to further develop its portfolio of education, research and services, then it needs the neces sary resources to do so. Our two governments and the parliamentarians were aware of this. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear how important Swiss TPH is, par ticularly through their activities such as provid ing concrete epidemiological advice to the feder al government and the cantons.”
Conradin Cramer: “The commitment to Swiss TPH and the increase in core funding is a success story about the cooperation between the two cantons. We agreed that we would like to boost the kind of research and implementation practised by Swiss TPH.” This message was also heard in Bern. At the end of 2020, the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) decided to increase core funding to around CHF 8 million per year as of 2021. Monica Gschwind: “We wanted to show Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin that Swiss TPH is about 80% self-financed through third-party funding. This is only possible thanks to the good repu tation that Swiss TPH has in Switzerland and around the world. The Federal Council should therefore have an interest in increasing core funding for Swiss TPH for the sake of Switzerland as a renowned research location.”
from both cantons, we approached the national government with a clear dedication to Swiss TPH. It was a great team effort to support a national institution that is rooted in our region and im proves healthcare for people everywhere.” At the end of 2021, Swiss TPH will move to its new headquarters at the BaseLink site in Allschwil. What are your expectations of Swiss TPH in the region and Switzerland? Monica Gschwind: “I am, delighted that Swiss TPH is moving to the Innovation Park in Allschwil, Switzerland. A unique mix of different institu tions is being created there: university institutions, companies in biotechnology and the pharmaceu tical industry. All of northwestern Switzerland will benefit from this. I am convinced that new start-ups, forward-looking projects and trend setting products emerge when high-level knowl edge is combined, distances are shortened and people can exchange ideas.”
Conradin Cramer: “This message has, indeed, been well received. Together with the members of the Council of States and the National Council
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Future Perspectives Conradin Cramer: “I fully agree with this. Re gardless of its location, Swiss TPH has proven time and time again that it addresses pressing social issues in innovative ways. Today, these issues are global migration, climate change and the North-South prosperity gap. The solutions to these issues always require a global perspective. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this abun dantly clear to us. Swiss TPH is a genuine prob lem-solving institute that will continue to be at the forefront of these challenges in the future.”
What is your vision for Swiss TPH in the future?
Cantonal Councillor Conradin Cramer
Cantonal Councillor Monica Gschwind
Conradin Cramer was born in Basel in 1979. After graduating from high school, he studied law at the University of Basel and the University of Freiburg, Breisgau. Since 2013, he has been teaching private law at the University of Basel, where he completed his dissertation and habilitation. From 2007 until he took office as a cantonal councillor in 2017, he was a full-time lawyer and notary at the Vischer law firm in Basel. He has been the Chairman of the Department of Education of the Canton of Basel-Stadt since 2017. In addition, he is the president of the éducation21 foundation. Conradin Cramer is married, has a daughter and lives with his family in Basel.
Monica Gschwind, born in 1963, obtained her Federal Diploma of Higher Education as a Certified Fiduciary after completing her commercial diploma and founded her own fiduciary company in 1993. She began her political career in 2000 as a communal councillor in Hölstein in the canton of Basel-Landschaft. She was elected communal president there in 2012. In 2010, she joined the Cantonal Parliament of Basel-Landschaft as a member of the FDP parliamentary group. In 2015, she was elected cantonal councillor of the Canton of Basel-Landschaft and is still Chair woman of the Department of Education, Culture and Sport. That same year, she became a member of the University Council.
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Conradin Cramer: “I would like to see Swiss TPH retain its unique blend of idealism and pragma tism. For me, this combination is the very es sence of Swiss TPH.” Monica Gschwind: “I want Swiss TPH to continue to have the great enthusiasm that its staff exudes at all levels. And curiosity, too. Curiosity is the source of everything.”
"The partnership between Swiss TPH and the Ifakara Health Institute is grounded in historical roots that anchor our shared mission to improve people's health and well-being. The successful relationship is a testament to both scientific advancements and capacity development in global health.” Fredros Okumu, Director of Science, Ifakara Health Institute
FACTS & FIGURES Swiss TPH aims to improve the health and well-being of people with our partners in 319 projects in 135 countries.
868 Employees at Swiss TPH
Employees based abroad
641 Course participants
> 10 projects > 5 projects > 1 project
Swiss TPH offices
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Facts & Figures
694 Employees based in Basel
Countries in which we work
Nations represented at Swiss TPH
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Facts & Figures
Swiss TPH is a world-leading institute in global health, with a particular focus on low- and middle-income countries. By uniquely combining research, education and services, we aim to improve the health and well-being of people through a better understanding of disease and health systems and by acting on this knowledge.
Innovation → Validation → Application
Discover novel diagnostics, drugs and vaccines and develop new approaches and tools
Generate evidence in the field under real-world conditions
Integrate new treatments and approaches into policy and health systems
Swiss TPH works across a value-chain, from innovation and validation to application. Innovations such as new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines or approaches and tools are rigorously validated in real-world settings and applied and integrated into health systems and policies.
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Facts & Figures
The five departments at Swiss TPH work across three fields – research, education and services – to improve health globally.
EPIDEMIOLOGY AND PUBLIC HEALTH
MEDICAL PARASITOLOGY AND INFECTION BIOLOGY MPI studies diseases of poverty and develops diagnostics, drugs and vaccines to combat them
I P M
EPH studies health and diseases in relation to their social, ecological and genetic determinants
MED provides clinical and diagnostic services for travellers and conducts clinical research in low-resource settings
a ti o
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SWISS CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEALTH
ET offers local, national and international training programmes and courses at graduate and postgraduate levels
SCIH provides policy advice, project design and management in the area of national and global health
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Facts & Figures
Scientific reach: 529 peer-reviewed publications spanning topics such as infectious diseases and parasitology to immunology and microbiology. Public, Environmental & Occupational Health Infectious Diseases Tropical Medicine Parasitology Environmental Sciences & Ecology General & Internal Medicine Pharmacology & Pharmacy Science & Technology Immunology Microbiology Health Care Sciences & Services Research & Experimental Medicine Chemistry Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Pediatrics Respiratory System Engineering Neurosciences & Neurology Other Topics
Distribution of research areas of Swiss TPH publications in 2020, according to the Web of Science (Accessed April 2021).
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Facts & Figures Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides a compass to tackle the global challeng es we face, including those related to poverty, in equality, climate and health. Swiss TPH is com mitted to the achievement of the SDGs, placing
particular emphasis on SDG 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” and universal health coverage (UHC). With our research projects and service mandates, we con tribute to 16 out of 17 SDGs.
13 12 11
9 8 6
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IN RETROSPECT JANUARY Research & Development for Parasitic Worm Infections Lags Behind Neglected tropical dis eases (NTDs) are a group of mainly chronic in fectious diseases that affect more than a billion people in tropical and subtropical countries. On the occasion of World NTD Day on 30 January, Jennifer Keiser, Head of the Helminth Drug De velopment unit at Swiss TPH, addressed past achievements and current challenges in the fight against NTDs. → Jennifer Keiser (right) conducting research on NTDs in Lao PDR.
→ An improved understanding of what influences immune system development is key to informing vaccine design for children.
New Understanding of Childhood Immune Systems May Improve Vaccine Efficacy In low- and middle-income countries, children have the great est need for protection afforded by vaccination due to a higher incidence of infectious diseases. However, the vaccines for these children often show a lower efficacy when compared to similar populations in high-income settings. A study by Swiss TPH and partners in Science Translational Medicine revealed that the immune system of chil dren varied according to age, location and anae mia status. This knowledge is crucial to improve vaccine efficacy.
MARCH Robust Modelling Methodology Leads to Better Understanding of Air Pollution and Health in Europe According to the World Health Organiza tion, air pollution is responsible for about one in every nine deaths annually. A study by Swiss TPH published in Environment International used ro bust modelling methodology to estimate nitrogen dioxide levels in Europe through the combination of monitors, satellites and chemical transport models. The study provides relevant information on air pollution to assist policy makers and scien tists in the decision-making process.
→ Air pollution in a European city.
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2.5 Million Euro Grant Awarded to Swiss TPH for Tuberculosis Research Sébastien Gagneux, Head of the Department of Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology at Swiss TPH, was awarded a European Research Council Advanced Grant for EUR 2.5 million over five years to conduct research on tuberculosis. The highly competitive grant sup ports scientists who are conducting cutting-edge research in their field. Gagneux’s research focus es on multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
→ Tuberculosis research at Swiss TPH.
APRIL Kaspar Wyss New Deputy Director of Swiss TPH Kaspar Wyss, Head of the Swiss Centre for Inter national Health, was appointed the Deputy Di rector of Swiss TPH. He succeeds Nino Künzli, who stepped down after 10 years in the position.
→ Kaspar Wyss, left; Nino Künzli, right.
MAY Swiss TPH Awarded Three New Grants from the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health to Combat COVID-19 Swiss TPH was awarded 3 out of 11 new research grants from the Fast Track Call for Acute Global Health Challeng es from the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH). The research projects will help mitigate COVID-19-related medical and public health challenges. → Swiss TPH was awarded three new research projects to combat COVID-19.
→ A scientist conducts research on malaria in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.
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Molecular Signatures Can Predict the Efficacy of Malaria Vaccines A new study revealed that it is possible to identify individuals that will be protected by the malaria vaccine before its ad ministration. The researchers also found that boosting the immune system before vaccina tion could potentially improve vaccine efficacy. The study from ISGlobal and Swiss TPH was published in Science Translational Medicine.
JUNE Topping out Ceremony of “Belo Horizonte” The construction of the new Swiss TPH headquarters “Belo Horizonte” in Allschwil progressed well throughout 2020. The tra ditional topping out ceremony for the con struction workers took place on 19 June. The move of Swiss TPH to Allschwil is planned for the end of 2021.
→ Topping out ceremony in Allschwil, Switzerland.
JULY Antibody Prevalence and Impact of the Coronavirus in Basel A long-term study on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was carried out in Ba sel. The study contained both a digital survey that looked at the effects of COVID-19 on individ ual’s quality of life and conducted antibody test ing. Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft contribut ed equally to the costs of the long-term study, which was carried out by Swiss TPH. → The COVCO-Basel study.
→ Drones for healthcare delivery in Madagascar.
Drones to Deliver Tuberculosis Drugs in Madagascar As drone technology continues to expand beyond the military and recreational sectors, it is foreseen that it will have a significant role to play in healthcare delivery. A project supported by Swiss TPH tested the usefulness of drones in transporting tuberculosis drugs and diagnostic samples in Madagascar, and found that in com bination with other innovative interventions, they can be both cost-effective and contribute towards the goal of universal health coverage.
AUGUST Julia Bohlius Appointed New Head of Education and Training Julia Bohlius was appointed the new Head of the Department of Education and Training (ET) at Swiss TPH, succeeding Nino Künzli. Künzli remains head of the BachelorMaster-Doctorate unit within ET and will pursue
his research projects on air pollution and health as project leader in the Department of Epidemi ology and Public Health (EPH). He will also keep his role as Professor of Public Health, So cial and Preventive Medicine at the University of Basel until June 2022.
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SEPTEMBER Only One Third of Children Receive Appropriate Malaria Care Despite much progress made in the past decade, more than 270,000 children die from malaria each year. Most of these deaths could be avoided through timely diagnosis and treatment. Despite better availability of tests and medication, a study from Swiss TPH and part ners in PLoS Medicine showed that large gaps remain in the quality of malaria care for children. → A woman and her child in Ifakara, Tanzania await malaria care.
OCTOBER HIV Self-Tests: Key Contributor to Ending HIV Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa In Africa, a part of the world that shoulders most of the HIV burden, home-based HIV testing is a promising solution to address the HIV epidemic. In two studies published in The Lancet HIV and the Journal of International AIDS Society, Swiss TPH and partners found that HIV self-tests during home-based testing campaigns significantly in creased people’s awareness of their HIV status, particularly in the most remote regions.
→ The leprosy control programmes are in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
→ On the move to home-based HIV self-tests in Lesotho.
Contact Tracing With Prophylactic Treatment Could Near-Eliminate Leprosy Post-exposure prophylaxis with a single dose of the antibiotic rifampicin is safe, can be integrated into differ ent leprosy control programmes, and is generally well accepted by patients and healthcare work ers. These were the results of the Leprosy Post-Ex posure Prophylaxis (LPEP) programme published in The Lancet Global Health. Swiss TPH contrib uted to LPEP through monitoring and quality control, protocol development and data analysis.
Obituary: Prof. Dr. Niklaus A. Weiss and Camilla Weiss It was with great sadness that we said goodbye to our former Vice Director, researcher, esteemed teacher and mentor Niklaus A. Weiss and his wife Camilla Weiss. We lost two committed individuals and re vered colleagues. → Niklaus A. Weiss and his wife Camilla Weiss.
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NOVEMBER Closing Symposium of the TIGER Project TIGER was an EU-funded project between France, Ger many and Switzerland to support the cross-bor der monitoring and control of the Asian tiger mosquito in the Upper Rhine region. Swiss TPH hosted a one-day virtual symposium where the project team, consisting of Swiss TPH and part ners, presented on the current situation of the spread of the tiger mosquito in the region, as well as the project results from the past three years. → An Asian tiger mosquito.
Pascale Vonaesch Received SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship Pascale Vonaesch, Sci entific Project Leader at Swiss TPH was awarded a prestigious Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The grant will allow Vonaesch to pursue her research in childhood nutrition and health.
→ Children in Lao PDR.
Largest Clinical Trial in Africa to Treat COVID-19 Cases Launched in 13 Countries Afri can countries and an international network of research institutions, including Swiss TPH, joined forces to launch the largest COVID-19 clinical trial in mild-to-moderate outpatients in Africa. ANTICOV aims to respond to the urgent need to identify treatments that can be used to treat COVID-19 early and prevent spikes in hospitalisation that could over whelm fragile health systems in Africa.
→ Women in Ifakara, Tanzania.
→ A doctor in the fight against COVID-19.
Iron Infusion Proves Effective to Treat Anaemia in Rural Africa Iron-deficiency anaemia is a ma jor concern in low-income settings, especially for women. In a study by Swiss TPH and partners published in The Lancet Global Health, research ers found that iron infusion was feasible, safe and in contrast to the standard iron-deficiency anaemia treatment of oral iron tablets, highly ef fective in Tanzania. This is the first study to pro vide evidence of the benefits and safety of iron infusion in a low-income setting.
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Airplane Noise at Night Can Trigger Cardiovascular Death A study demonstrated that loud night-time noise from airplanes can trigger a car diovascular death within two hours. Researchers from Swiss TPH and partners compared mortal ity data with acute night-time noise exposure around the Zurich airport between 2000 and 2015. The results of the study were published in the European Heart Journal.
R. Geigy Award 2020 went to Tobias Schindler Tobias Schindler received the R. Geigy Award 2020 worth CHF 20,000 in recogni tion of his achievements in the development of new diagnostic tools in the fight against diseases such as malaria and COVID-19 in Af rica. The R. Geigy Foundation presents this award every two years to young researchers who have distinguished themselves through outstanding achievements in the field of ne glected tropical diseases or public health.
DECEMBER Swiss TPH Symposium: Reshaping Healthcare Supply Chains Strong and resilient supply chains ensure the provision of quali ty health products and vaccines to patients, making them a central component of health systems. At the virtual Swiss TPH Winter Symposium, experts from academia, public administration, international organisations and the private sector came together to dis cuss how we can achieve universal access to high quality, affordable medicines and vac cines.
→ Kids following a drone in Madagascar.
Swiss Government Increases Funding for Swiss TPH The Swiss Federal Department of Eco nomic Affairs, Education and Research increased its core contribution to Swiss TPH from CHF 25 million to CHF 32 million over the next four years. Together with the additional funding from the two Basel cantons, which increased from a joint amount of CHF 7.26 million per year to CHF 8 mil lion, the contribution over the next four years (2021 – 2024) will support the work of Swiss TPH in improving public and global health. → The current Swiss TPH headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.
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“Working at Swiss TPH the past 26 years has been an amazing experience. It is a unique place to work in that it brings together people and cultures from around the globe who share knowledge, experiences and practice. One of my highlights has been leading the Health Care Management course that contributed to capacity building for the next generation of leaders in global health.” Bernadette Peterhans, Head of the Professional Postgraduate Training unit at Swiss TPH
INSIGHTS The Role of Swiss TPH in the COVID-19 Pandemic In 2020, Swiss TPH played an important role in deepening the understanding of the pandemic and assisted with public health responses in different parts of the world. Researchers competitively acquired new grants, collaborated with multiple institutions, shared knowledge and advised on the epidemiology and control of the disease. These activities had wide spread benefits for individuals in Switzerland and abroad. Until the beginning of last year, we were unfa miliar with terms like “face masks”, “physical distancing” and “lockdowns”. Now, they are part of our everyday language and life. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an unprecedented chal lenge to public health, the economy and society as a whole. The pandemic has also changed the research, education and service landscape at Swiss TPH.
Her team has worked in Equatorial Guinea for many years with local and international part ners. Together, they had previously established one of the best-equipped laboratories in the region in order to conduct malaria vaccination research. Thanks to this infrastructure already in place and expertise in this field, the team was able to convert the facility into a fully operating diagnostic laboratory for SARS-CoV-2.
Support to COVID-19 efforts around the globe
From clinical research to policy advice
When the first COVID-19 wave hit Switzerland in March 2020, the medical staff of Swiss TPH supported the University Hospital Basel as they temporarily turned a church into a corona test centre. Our physicians, who typically consult travellers at the Swiss TPH Travel Clinic or treat them when they return ill from the tropics, were working late shifts several times a week at the corona test centre. Every day, hundreds of peo ple were tested for the coronavirus.
By the end of 2020, Swiss TPH counted 21 COVID-19related projects in 30 different countries. The work ranged from the development of novel pointof-care diagnostics and designing and implement ing clinical trials, to mathematical modelling. Swiss TPH also worked closely with governments to provide guidance and evidence-based advisory services.
In low- and middle-income countries, COVID-19 also posed a considerable challenge. Swiss TPH supported Equatorial Guinea in establishing a diagnostic laboratory for SARS-CoV-2. It all start ed with a call from the Deputy Minister of Health of Equatorial Guinea. “He asked me to help his country set up a diagnostic lab for SARS-CoV-2,” said Claudia Daubenberger, Head of the Clinical Immunology unit.
Refugees and migrants are particularly vulner able and have suffered the economic and social consequences during the pandemic. They are affected by job and income losses, travel and movement restrictions, and often live in harsh conditions in overcrowded shelters with inad equate access to health, water, sanitation and other basic services.
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Improving diagnostics of COVID-19 in Eritrean refugee camps
Swiss TPH is launching a project to develop a novel integrated infectious disease diagnosis and surveillance system (NIIDS) to improve tri age, diagnosis and management of diseases in migrants and refugees. The project is assessing major healthcare needs, as well as setting up a platform to support the diagnosis and manage ment of clinically relevant infectious diseases. The study will take place in the Eritrean refugee camps in Ethiopia. The NIIDS project also collects evidence on non-communicable diseases, mental health, re productive health, nutritional deficiencies and infectious diseases. The data serve as a basis to inform clinical guidelines, design interventions and validate novel diagnostic platforms, such as a sophisticated digital urine sensor device for rapid disease severity assessment. “The NIIDS surveillance platform consists of di agnostics and medical information for COVID-19 related data analysis in order to design and imple ment measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” said Daniel Paris, principal investigator of NIIDS and Head of the Department of the Medicine at Swiss TPH. Partners joined forces to combine Swiss TPH’s expertise in diagnostics with the University of California Irvine, Protein Microarray Labora
tories, Swiss Center for Electronics and Micro technology and the knowledge of the Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia. The pro ject is funded by the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation. SARS-CoV-2 and vaccine modelling in Switzerland Mathematical models are essential tools to sup port the coordination of all aspects of the response to pandemics. Models can inform policy-makers on strategies for vaccinations and testing, and support decision-making on various control strategies and public health goals. The Disease Modelling unit developed a new mathematical model – OpenCOVID – to com pare multiple vaccine rollout scenarios with sev eral phased relaxation strategies to explore the potential impact and interaction on the future dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in Switzerland. They looked at when and how containment measures could be relaxed during different levels of a vac cine rollout to prevent or limit a potential surge of confirmed cases, hospitalisations, intensive care admissions and deaths. The model took into account the impact of new variants, vaccine properties and vaccine hesi tancy. “Results suggest that faster vaccination and a more phased relaxation of steps lead to
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Insights better outcomes in terms of mortality and num bers of cases.” said Melissa Penny, Head of the Disease Modelling unit at Swiss TPH. The model was developed to support current and future interventions to tackle the COVID-19 pan demic in Switzerland and abroad. “Our hope is that such models can continue to provide deci sion makers with quantitative evidence to make informed decisions.” said Andrew Shattock, lead developer of OpenCOVID. OpenCOVID is funded by the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) and the Swiss National Science Foun dation (SNSF). Expertise in Science Taskforce Swiss TPH experts contribute to the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Taskforce, a national ad hoc scientific advisory board to the Swiss government. Swiss TPH scientists contribute their expertise to the public health and the data and modelling groups. The long-term effects of the pandemic The COVCO-Basel study began in July 2020 and investigates the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and fol lows the impact of the containment measures on people’s health and well-being in Basel. COV CO-Basel, which has over 10,000 participants, includes a seroprevalence study that examines how many people have antibodies of SARSCoV-2, which represents the number of people who have been infected with COVID-19 or vac cinated against the disease. It also includes a digital cohort that investigates the long-term ef fects of the pandemic on health, lifestyle, work environment and family situations. The seroprevalence in the Basel region has in creased from 6% in October 2020 to 21% in March 2021. Preliminary results show that symptoms of severe depression have increased in the study population between July 2020 and January 2021. “People with low incomes are particularly affect ed by the pandemic. They are often more vulner able due to their jobs, suffer from the economic consequences of the measures and often have cramped living conditions.” said Nicole ProbstHensch, Head of the Department of Epidemiol ogy and Public Health at Swiss TPH and study lead of COVCO-Basel.
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COVCO-Basel is co-funded by the Cantons of Ba sel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft and the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) and is part of the nationwide research programme Corona Im munitas. 14 universities and research institutes from all over Switzerland participate in this programme, including 40 studies and around 40,000 participants in Switzerland. From classroom to online and hybrid learning COVID-19 presented new challenges for teaching activities. Facilitators adapted courses from on-campus to online formats for many of the programmes at the graduate, doctoral and postgraduate level. Of the 39 postgraduate courses, 31 courses took place with 641 participants. At the graduate and doctoral level, all courses took place in an adapted format. The new learning styles allowed many students from low- and middle-income countries to participate. In some instances, alumni could also get involved. Challenges included problems with internet connectivity and power cuts in some countries from which the students participated, as well as time zone differences. “Non-verbal communication is difficult to capture in an online format, which makes it harder for facilitators to gauge participants' attention or state of mind,” said Bernadette Peterhans, Head of the Professional Postgraduate Training unit at Swiss TPH, about the challenges of the 14-week Health Care Management course being held virtually for the first time. While some participants missed the direct interaction with peers and facilitators, others appreciated the new format. Swiss TPH will continue to offer online and hybrid course programmes beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, while also continuing on-campus teaching.
21 Projects, 30 Countries In 2020, Swiss TPH was involved in more than 20 projects related to COVID-19 in 30 different countries on topics such as clinical research, epidemiology and modelling. Throughout all of the projects, we work along our value chain from innovation and validation to application.
Health Systems & Policy
Epidemiology & Social Science International Projects
2 Projects in Switzerland Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute 27
Collateral Damage of COVID-19 on Low- and Middle-Income Countries The COVID-19 pandemic has a major impact on human health, the economy and society at large. There is no doubt that the disease and control measures indirectly effect people’s health and well-being, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where the crisis has amplified and deepened existing inequalities. To mitigate the collateral damage, Swiss TPH worked on a myriad of projects to support vulnerable populations around the globe. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected health systems around the world, individuals living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been hit the hardest. These countries that often have a weak health infrastructure, high disease burden, and lack of access to treatments and vaccines, face immense threats to their livelihood. In addition to impacting human health and well-being, economic activities have contracted around the globe as a result of the pandemic. The immediate result was a disruption of global trade, a near-complete stop of other disease control activities and restricted primary healthcare services in many countries. The economic shock presents a particular threat to residents in LMICs, who lack the social safety nets that often exist in wealthier countries. While lockdowns and quarantines implemented by countries to interrupt the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have had a disastrous impact on even the strongest economies by halting social and economic activity, many LMICs suffered the most. “What we have seen is that people in LMICs have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” said Jürg Utzinger, Director of Swiss TPH. “To support the most vulnerable people and communities, cooperation and fair and equitable access to global public goods, such as vaccines, is needed.”
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“To support the most vulnerable people and communities, cooperation and fair and equitable access to global public goods, such as vaccines, is needed.” Jürg Utzinger, Director of Swiss TPH Support to COVID-19 efforts through Swiss government funding To assist in the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) supported the re-allocation of funds within existing projects that are implemented by Swiss TPH in various parts of Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Activities included the creation of a national call centre, procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment, the training of primary healthcare workers and a new diagnostics laboratory, among other activities.
“It was encouraging to see Switzerland actively engaging in the public health response to the pandemic,” said Kaspar Wyss, Head of the Swiss Centre for International Health and Deputy Director of Swiss TPH. “We were grateful for the high level of flexibility and opportunity to implement local and national initiatives to support COVID-19 relief efforts.”
Kosovo The Accessible Quality Healthcare project provided behavioural change communication support, as well as proactively countered false and misleading information.
Albania The Health for All Project (HAP) supported chronic care patients as well as those with COVID-19. The project also provided funding to the UN Development Programme to procure ventilators.
Tajikistan The Enhancing Primary Healthcare Project supported with the procurement of personal protective equipment and trained health workers.
Chad The Support Project for the Health Districts in Chad (PADS) assisted with training health workers and the dissemination of communication tools to inform the local community about COVID-19. Ethiopia The Jigjiga One Health Initiative (JOHI) laboratory at the Jigjiga University became the first COVID-19 diagnostic lab in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia, contributing to pandemic control in Ethiopia.
Moldova The Healthy Life Project provided personal protective equipment to health and community workers, and evidence-based guidance via phone consultations.
Tanzania SDC supported the Health Promotion and Systems Strengthening project (HPSS) with building up and operating a national call centre to provide COVID-19 information. Ukraine The Medical Education Development Project launched an online course on topics such as newborn support and infection control in outpatient practice during the pandemic.
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Insights Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on neglected tropical diseases At present, 1.5 billion people are infected with intestinal worms, which represents nearly 20% of the world's population. Although the situation has improved for many neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) over the past 15 – 20 years because of large-scale prevention, control and elimination efforts, the global burden of NTDs is still considerable. COVID-19 is expected to render the lives of millions of people affected by NTDs even more precarious as a result of the diversion of funds and human resources to address the pandemic.
Pandemic-induced hunger and poverty The onset of the pandemic caused a sharp decline in living standards and rising food insecurity in LMICs. A study published in the journal Science Advances provided novel insights into the collateral damage of the pandemic, and urged the international community to take action to mitigate the impact on hunger and poverty. The study showed that in addition to increasing food insecurity, the pandemic and accompanying containment measures undermined other aspects of household well-being and reduced access to health services.
In a publication in Infectious Diseases of Pov- “Even though the world has witnessed the power erty, researchers drew the attention of the NTD of science, innovation and involvement of the community towards the emerging economic op- private sector in rapidly developing and approvportunities that arose as a response to tackle the ing new vaccines, people in LMICs will have to pandemic. “The publication serves as a starting wait much longer before their populations will point for the NTD community to seek financial have access to the vaccines,” said Günther Fink, support in order to sustain and revitalise con- an economist at Swiss TPH. “In the meantime, trol and elimination efforts pertaining to NTDs,” families in low-income settings will struggle said Peter Steinmann, public health specialist with extreme poverty and hunger.” at Swiss TPH. “It also provides a compass for NTD programme managers, researchers, deci- Hope on the horizon sion-makers and other stakeholders to navigate Despite these realities, there is hope on the hothe rapidly evolving funding landscape.” rizon. Society has seen a major commitment from health and social workers, unprecedentMalaria modelling ed inter-agency collaboration and high-levels Over the past 20 years, there have been large of leadership from countries coming together to investment into malaria prevention and treat- leverage their experiences gained in other infecment, resulting in the prevention of 7.6 million tious disease outbreaks. Communities have also deaths. The progress the world has made in the banded together like never before to support one fight against malaria is one of the greatest suc- another during these unprecedented times. cess stories in global health. Currently, however, these successes are threatened by the pandemic, “There is a pressing need for equitable vaccine as the virus places an additional burden on al- distribution, coupled with continued health ready fragile health systems. measures and coordinated global action to mitigate the public health and economic impact of “Early on in the pandemic, we supported malar- the pandemic,” said Utzinger. “COVID-19 any ia control efforts in various African countries by where is COVID-19 everywhere, as the virus using models calibrated to their malaria situa- knows no borders. The world must come togethtions and estimated the potential indirect impact er and lay the groundwork for a radical transforthat COVID-19 would have on malaria if malar- mation of health and social protection systems, ia interventions, including the distribution of so that we can emerge from this crisis stronger long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and the than before.” access to health services, were disrupted,” said Emilie Pothin, Group Leader at Swiss TPH. “We were grateful to be able to contribute to the ef- Related publications: Ehrenberg JP, et al.  Efforts to mitigate the economic fort that encouraged countries to continue the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: potential entry points for planning and the implementation of the LLIN neglected tropical diseases. Infect Dis Poverty. 10, 2. campaigns despite the pandemic.” Egger D, et al.  Falling living standards during the COVID-19 crisis: quantitative evidence from nine developing countries. Science Advances. eabe0997.
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Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute 31
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LD A H EA LT H IE R
Our mission is to make the world a healthier place. We will ensure that we achieve this by con tinuously assessing the impact of our activities, reporting on the progress that we make within our strategic goals and topics and demonstrat
OR W E
For more than 75 years, we have grown and developed our activities and strengthened partnerships around the world. More recently, we have reaffirmed our commitment to improving the health and well-being of people – locally, nationally and internationally – through a unique combination of research, education and services.
ing our contribution to the Sustainable Develop ment Goals (SDGs). We have set our sights high, and we look forward to sharing our progress to wards strengthening population health around the globe.
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute 33
Strategic Goals Through our three strategic goals, we generate knowledge on disease and health systems and develop new tools and interventions, we inform health policies, strengthen health systems and
provide high-quality public health services, and we share knowledge and practical expertise with partners, students, professionals, benefi ciaries, organisations and society.
Mutual Learning for Sustainable Development
Excellence in Science
Taking Science to Impact
Guiding Principles Our guiding principles are at the core of how we work at Swiss TPH. We are proud to be a diverse and dynamic organisation that works across cul
tures and topics, applying and sharing our knowledge with the people and countries with whom we work.
Cooperation Courage Impact Sustainability Inclusion and Diversity
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Strategic Topics The diverse portfolio of projects, initiatives and programmes at Swiss TPH are grouped into eight strategic topics (STOs). In each STO, we work across departments and along our value chain,
from innovation and validation to application, to improve health on a global scale. The STOs reflect key emerging issues in global health and are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Infection Biology and Molecular Epidemiology
Generating new insight into the biology and molecular epidemiology of poverty-related in fectious diseases.
Society and Civic Engagement
Striving for social justice in health and engag ing with people in the process. STO-6
Diagnostics, Vector Control, Vaccines and New Drugs
Developing, validating and applying drugs, di agnostics, vaccines, vector control measures and computational tools for the improvement of global health.
Personalised and Digital Health
Defining markers for disease control and sur veillance and conducting research using cohorts and biobanks by means of longitudinal charac terisation of participants.
Mobility, Migration and Outbreak Investigation
Assessing the healthcare needs in mobile pop ulations, internally displaced people and inter national refugees, while maintaining an institu tional expert group for outbreak investigation. STO-8
Translating evidence and strengthening health systems and policies.
Health Systems and Interventions
Environment and Health
Improving the health and well-being of people by addressing determinants of health in human- environmental systems.
Statistical and Mathematical Modelling
Generating evidence on disease and health through the development and application of computational, statistical and mathematical modelling of biological disease and epidemi ological data.
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COMMIT TEES & DEPARTMENTS Directorate and Board of Governors Directorate
Board of Governors
Dr. Andreas Burckhardt Chairman of the Board of Governors, Bâloise Holding AG
Prof. Dr. Jürg Utzinger Director Prof. Dr. Kaspar Wyss Deputy Director
Additional Members of the Managing Board PD Dr. Julia Bohlius (as of August 2020) Prof. Dr. Sébastien Gagneux Prof. Dr. Nino Künzli (until July 2020) Prof. Dr. Daniel Paris Prof. Dr. Nicole ProbstHensch
Dr. Ariane Bürgin Head of Higher Education, Cantonal Department of Education, Basel Prof. Dr. François Chappuis Head of Tropical and Humanitarian Medicine Division, Geneva University Hospitals Dr. Doris Fellenstein Wirth Head of the Department for Vocational, Secondary and Higher Education, Basel-Landschaft Prof. Dr. Sabina De Geest Director, Institute of Nursing Science, University of Basel
R. Geigy Foundation: Foundation Board and Administration Dr. Olivier Küttel Head, International Affairs, EPFL, Lausanne Dr. Cornelia Staehelin Senior Physician, University Hospital Bern Christoph Tschumi Administrative Director, University of Basel Dr. Benedikt Knüsel Observer, Scientific Advisor at State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, Bern Prof. Dr. Jürg Utzinger Director Swiss TPH, (ex officio)
Prof. Dr. Marcel Tanner President of Foundation Board, Director Emeritus, Swiss TPH Beat Berger Foundation Board Member, Managing Director, Berger Liegenschaften Prof. Dr. Christoph B. Bühler Vice-President of Founda tion Board (as of January 2021), Lawyer, LL.M., Honorary professor at University of Zurich Jean-Marc Joerin Vice-President of Founda tion Board (until Decem ber 2020), Lawyer, Joerin Advokatur Dr. Lukas Meier Managing Director Stefan Mörgeli Foundation Board Member, Administrative Director Emeritus, Swiss TPH Bernadette Peterhans Foundation Board Member, Head of Professional Postgraduate Training, Swiss TPH Jürg Toffol Foundation Board Member, Architect, ETH SIA Prof. Dr. Jürg Utzinger Foundation Board Member, Director, Swiss TPH
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Committees & Departments
Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology
Sébastien Gagneux, Head of MPI
The Department of Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology (MPI) investi gates the biology and transmission of pathogens. Findings from this research inform the development of new diagnostics drugs, and vaccines against neglected tropical and poverty-related infectious diseases such as malaria, parasitic worm infections, Buruli ulcer, tuberculosis and Chagas disease.
The Parasite Chemotherapy unit developed a novel live imaging assay for Trypanosoma cruzi to evaluate new drug candidates against Chagas disease (published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases). The Tuberculosis Research unit demonstrated that various compounds used to treat immune-mediated inflammatory disorders reactivate dormant Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria (published in PLoS Pathogens). These findings highlight the need to screen for latent tuberculosis in patients receiving treatment against autoimmune diseases.
Research on pathogen biology, host-pathogen interactions and immunity Researchers at MPI investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying pathogen reproduction and transmission. They use various infection models and human samples from clinical studies to study the host immune responses to infection as well as the molecules and processes that influence the course of disease. Research on pathogen development and transmission The specialists at MPI study how pathogens undermine host immunity and develop drug resistance, and how these phenomena influence the transmission of these microbes. They analyse the dynamics of infection, the biological changes linked to pathogen life cycles, and the effects of interventions such as vaccinations and therapies on the population structure of these pathogens. Development of diagnostics, drugs and vaccines Researchers also develop novel infection models to evaluate new interventions. They use their knowledge of host and pathogen to test
new diagnostic, drug and vaccine candidates in preclinical and clinical studies.
MPI continues to be highly successful in acquiring new research grants. In particular, Tiffany Bouchery was awarded a PRIMA Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation to start her own research in the Helminth Drug Development unit. Sébastien Gagneux and his team acquired an ERC Advanced Grant from the European Research Council to continue their work on multid rugresistant tuberculosis in the country of Georgia.
Highlights in 2020
Strategic areas and promotions
The Clinical Immunology unit found that the development of the immune system in children differed in African compared to European children. This work has important implications for the roll out of vaccines. It was published in Science Translational Medicine.
MPI is further strengthening its research portfolio in basic infection biology to complement the translational work already ongoing. Specifically, Nicolas Brancucci successfully started as head of the new Malaria Host Interactions unit. Sergio Wittlin successfully completed his habilitation at the University of Basel.
The Molecular Immunology unit discovered that use of a single dose of the new tuberculosis drug candidate Q203 eradicates Mycobacterium ulcerans in mice (published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy). This finding paves the way for a simplified treatment against Buruli ulcer. The Helminth Drug Development unit evaluates new treatments against schistosomiasis, and found that Ro 15-5458, an old compound that was almost forgotten, was active against all development stages of Schistosoma mansoni (published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy). This drug also showed an excellent pharmacokinetic profile, indicating a single dose might be sufficient to cure patients.
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Committees & Departments
Epidemiology and Public Health
Nicole ProbstHensch, Head of EPH
The Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH) investigates the distribution and drivers of infectious and non-communicable diseases in populations across the globe. To understand and promote the wellbeing of people in different cultural and environmental contexts, EPH applies various methods ranging from anthropology and social science to bio statistics and mathematical modelling as well as observational cohorts with biobanks and intervention studies. COVID-19 EPH obtained funding from the Botnar Re search Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) for COVID-19 modelling and supported the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force in mathematical modelling and public health. Social science and qualitative research exper tise was brought into the PubliCo platform to capture the public perception of COVID-19. The COVCO-Basel study was launched with funding from Corona Immunitas and the can tons Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft. The study includes a 10,000 citizen cohort and a biobank to investigate the course of SARSCoV-2 infection and immunity as well as the short- and long-term societal impact of the containment measures. The Jigjiga University One Health Initiative (JOHI) was granted a second 5-year phase of funding from the Swiss Agency for Develop ment and Cooperation (SDC) and inaugurated its molecular diagnostic laboratory, the only SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic lab in the Somali Re gional State of Ethiopia. Other disease areas The Towards Malaria Elimination in Tanzania project continues to support the National Ma laria Control Programme in vector control, case management and monitoring and evalu ation. Field data collection for the UNITAIDfunded CARAMAL project was completed, and over 6,000 children with severe febrile illness were followed up to 28 days. EPH sup ported the fifth national Malaria Indicator Survey in Papua New Guinea covering over 3,000 households.
Well-being in cultural, environmental and social contexts EPH conducts research on numerous environ mental exposures and health risks and contrib utes to new, globally applied radiofrequency electromagnetic field guidelines, and estab lished exposure monitoring for non-ionizing radiation. Novel evidence on the adverse shortterm impact of airplane noise on cardiovascu lar mortality was published. Broad external exposome features were mapped for over 55 million cohort participants across Europe. Sev eral studies looked at the exposure to chemi cals, including pesticides in Switzerland, Costa Rica, Uganda and South Africa. In many low- and middle-income countries, families living in remote areas have insuffi cient access to health-related services. A pro ject in the Peruvian Andees tested the efficacy of a mobile phone-based application based on artificial intelligence to improve children’s development. Strategic areas Control and elimination of infectious diseas es, ranging from malaria to helminth infec tions, remain an important stronghold of EPH. These activities are paralleled by efforts to understand and better control non-communi cable diseases through the strengthening of
primary prevention and policies to reduce environmental risks. The COVID-19 pandemic points to the relevance of the dual disease bur den, with people suffering from chronic, agingrelated conditions being at high risk of dying from a SARS-CoV-2 infection. The parallel co horts set up in Switzerland, Lao PDR, Peru and Côte d’Ivoire strengthen these research efforts while promoting young investigators’ careers. Promotions and organisational changes Melissa Penny was promoted to Head of the new Disease Modelling unit. Pie Müller was promoted to Head of the new Vector Control unit, and Sarah Moore, Emilie Pothin, Mar loes Eeftens, Danielle Vienneau and Kees de Hoogh were all promoted to group leaders. Daniel Cobos was appointed as project leader. Pascale Vonäsch was awarded an SNSF Eccel lenza Professorial Fellowship. Marloes Eeft ens was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Basel in the light of her two ca reer grants, SNSF and ERC Starting Grant. Danielle Vienneau and Kees de Hoogh habil itated at the University of Basel.
A Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funded project aimed at breaking schistoso miasis transmission was launched in Tanza nia. The project tests the feasibility of urogen ital schistosomiasis elimination using novel surveillance-response strategies and diagnos tic approaches. EPH also works towards zero human rabies deaths in Africa by applying blockchain technology.
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Committees & Departments
Swiss Centre for International Health
Kaspar Wyss, Head of SCIH
The Swiss Centre for International Health (SCIH) provides policy advice, project design and management in public and global health. Hosting multidisciplinary and multilingual teams in Switzerland and around the world, SCIH offers a broad range of technical and methodological expertise including strategic consulting, project implementation, policy advice, organisational assessments, implementation research and economic evaluations. SCIH has a long-standing expertise in glob al health and successfully supports health system development with a focus on Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Key areas in clude Primary Healthcare Development (PHC), health workforce strengthening, health financ ing, health information systems, programme performance monitoring, organisational capac ities assessments, health commodities man agement and digitalisation. SCIH also covers women, children and adolescent health as well as both non-communicable and neglected tropical diseases. With over 60 collaborators in Basel and 150 abroad, SCIH staff work with partners to respond to local needs, thus tailor ing services to the contexts and countries. In the drive towards universal health coverage and the achievement of the Sustainable Devel opment Goals, SCIH works in countries such as Tanzania, Chad, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Albania, Koso vo, Moldova, Ukraine and Tajikistan, amongst others, to improve the quality of care, increase health service coverage and community en gagement, and ultimately improve health for the individuals living there. Response to the COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic required an immedi ate response in order to assist health systems around the world. Within the long-term man dates funded by Swiss, Dutch, German and French Governments, SCIH supported the reallocation of funds and mobilisation of expertise to address the COVID-19 crisis. With funding from the Swiss Agency for Devel opment and Cooperation (SDC) and in collabo ration with partners, SCIH jointly established a national call centre, procured and distributed protective equipment, set up a diagnostics lab oratory and trained PHC workers. The project countries included Tanzania, Moldova, Koso vo, Albania, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Ethiopia and Chad. A new SDC-funded project in Rwanda was launched to improve the capacity of commu nity health workers to address COVID-19 cas es. In the newly EU-funded CORESMA project,
Swiss TPH led the implementation research in Nepal and Côte d’Ivoire to analyse the effects of surveillance and containment measures through SORMAS, a computerised epidemic surveillance system. SORMAS is also being in troduced in Switzerland. SCIH also assisted the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) in the compilation and analysis of epidemiologi cal patterns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
dle East region. SCIH also reviewed budgets and protocols, relevance and effectiveness of savings and more. SCIH continued to perform quality assurance services for health facility assessment and data quality reviews for Guin ea and the DRC as well as worked on the anal ysis and mapping of prospective sources of funding for Malaria Elimination in Melanesia and Timor-Leste (MEMTI).
Services to the Global Fund, Gavi, the World Bank and more
SCIH supported JeuneS3, a national life skills education programme in the DRC, from 2016 – 2020 through curriculum development, the creation of a pool of specialised trainers and trained teachers, school infrastructure improvement and more. The programme de livered sexuality education in 160 schools.
The World Bank supports around 100 coun tries’ responses to COVID-19, totalling over USD 6 billion. Swiss TPH assessed if the projects reached their overarching objective of con tributing to pandemic relief and strength ening health systems. SCIH also carried out a consultancy for the World Bank to identify bottlenecks of anaemia prevention and control in the West Bank and Gaza. SCIH provided Local Fund Agent (LFA) servic es to the Global Fund and monitors programme implementation relating to HIV/AIDS, tubercu losis and malaria control and elimination and health systems strengthening for 14 portfolios, mainly in Francophone Africa and the Mid
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SCIH supported Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in Burundi, Niger and Côte d’Ivoire by tracking the implementation of vaccination activities in the country. A monitoring review in Sao Tomé and Principe as well as South Sudan were also conducted in order to optimise vaccination coverage in these countries.
Committees & Departments
Daniel Paris, Head of MED
The Department of Medicine (MED) is comprised of a Swiss Center of Excellence for Travel and Tropical Medicine, the National Diagnostic Reference Centre for Imported Parasitic Diseases and an expanding centre for clinical translational research involving academia and industry related projects. MED provides unique services in tropical and travel medicine, as well as clinically relevant research relating to diagnostics, drugs and vaccines with a focus on tropical and poverty-related diseases. Year at a glance MED was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and suffered substantial finan cial losses. The Medical Services unit (MSU) experienced a dramatic decrease of patients and clients, and the Diagnostic Centre saw a substantial reduction in diagnostic turnover as the need for tropical and travel medicine consultations and diagnostics dropped due to pandemic-associated travel restrictions. In the Clinical Operations unit, various re search support projects and service contracts at international study sites were cancelled or postponed due to the impact of COVID-19. In response to the pandemic, the medical ser vices staff immediately supported the Univer sity Hospital Basel COVID-19 testing centre to assist hospital emergency services, and most of the staff was seconded to multiple COVID-19 related support efforts in the region. Clinical research activities were less affected by the pandemic and multiple large research projects were successfully acquired. The broad teaching and training activities in MED con tinued throughout the year, but experienced a drastic change to online remote lectures and courses. This transition – despite its challeng es – happened rapidly and smoothly thanks to the excellent support by the Department of Education and Training (ET) and the Informat ics unit.
tuberculosis screening approaches in South Africa. The BRCCH-funded MistraL project combined artificial intelligence with novel tests to improve diagnosis of COVID-19 pa tients in settings with limited resources. The International HIV and Chronic Disease Care group is running multiple clinical trials in HIV care assessing the impact of oral HIV self-testing, the benefits of viral load-guided therapy switching, the effectiveness of eHealth service delivery and improved HIV resistance testing for children and adolescents in Africa. The Swiss TPH-led DAVINCI consortium is de veloping a saliva-based rapid test for COVID-19 in a first product-development-partnership be tween academia and industry (BRCCH-funded). The multidisciplinary NIIDS project address ing the healthcare requirements and develop ing diagnostics for migrants and refugees in Ethiopia received additional governmental funding by the SERI to incorporate COVID-19 diagnostics into the migration health platform. Medical and diagnostic services: The new lab oratory information system in routine diag nostics has improved processes and electronic transfer of medical reports to hospitals and
laboratories. The diagnostic and MSU teams rapidly established and validated serological SARS-CoV-2 tests and PCR assays, set up an in-house COVID-19 testing service and es tablished a COVID-19 biobank together with Canton Basel-Landschaft, ETH Zurich and the University Hospital Basel. In the new “services-for-research” area, mul tiple assignments relating to malaria slide QC reading, assay development, pathogen geno typing for resistance markers developed into a highly successful, quality-controlled, transla tional service-for-research pipeline. Clinical operations: COU celebrated its 20th anniversary and continues to expand its port folio of both academic and pharmaceutical projects. Notable successes included acquiring the first clinical Phase 1 trial ever funded by Innosuisse (on Leishmania), taking on the role as sponsor for an EDCTP-funded phase 1 trial evaluating novel anthelmithic drugs (HELP) – working closely with MPI and the initiation of recruitment of the youngest patients in the first neonatal phase II study on malaria treatment in DRC (Calina study).
Project and research highlights Regulatory compliance efforts: Swiss TPH un dertook large efforts to improve its capacities for sponsorship of clinical trials. The fulfillment of regulatory compliance and assurance of data integrity in clinical research and conduct of clinical trials has reached new dimensions in the past few years. MED and the Department of Clinical Research at the University of Basel are now collaborating to meet the highest quality standards. Notable research highlights: The Clinical Re search unit led the EDCTP-funded TB TRIAGE+ project assessing the accuracy, impact and cost-effectiveness of new community-based
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Committees & Departments
Education and Training
Nino Künzli, Head of ET (until July 2020)
The Department of Education and Training (ET) coordinates classes and programmes at Swiss TPH, the University of Basel and academic institutes around the world. In the midst of the pandemic, Swiss TPH mastered a fast, lean and successful switch from physical to virtual teaching and training in close collaboration with other departments at Swiss TPH and university partners.
Julia Bohlius, Head of ET (as of August 2020)
One example of the transition from physical to digital teaching is the ESTHER-funded project that aims to build capacity for data science with partners in Zambia and South Africa. Initially planned with workshops and coaching on site in Johannesburg and Lusaka, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the transition of all trainings into a digital blended learn ing framework. The digital transition was supported by the Teaching Technology and Didactics unit and set the model for future training collaborations. The digital approach created opportunities for additional capaci ty building for developing and conducting digital trainings and has the potential to in crease the sustainability of the trainings, as they will become less dependent on on-site trainers.
The 120 teachers who train bachelor, mas ter, doctoral and postgraduate students had little time to embrace the new world of edu cation and training in the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Swiss TPH’s long-standing experience in blended learning programmes based on Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Zoom proved to be a prime asset for a smooth transition to remote online teaching. Only eight out of 39 postgraduate courses were postponed or cancelled and the courses still managed to reach a global community of students who would otherwise not have been able to take classes with Swiss TPH. The li brary was mostly closed due to the pandemic, but a pick-up service for books was offered and other library services continued as usual. Highlights in 2020 Despite COVID-19, the Swiss TPH faculty su pervised around 250 MSc, MD, PhD and post graduate MAS theses and 641 participants were trained in 31 postgraduate courses. In the fall of 2020, the 76th edition of the 8-week CAS course “Internationale Zusammenarbeit
und Globale Gesundheit” was held with 44 participants. The course, which was previous ly known as “Allgemeiner Tropenkurs”, has been offered at Swiss TPH since 1944. The virtual Lugano Summer School in Public Health Policy, Economics and Management, jointly organised by SSPH+, Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) and Swiss TPH, and supported by the fellowship programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Coopera tion (SDC), was another highlight. With eight courses visited by 149 students – including 47 SDC fellowship students – and 10 plenary sessions open to students, alumni and the public, the Lugano Summer School attracted students from 36 countries: a broader audi ence than ever before. Strategic areas The pandemic strongly accelerated the imple mentation of previously adopted strategies to strengthen online teaching and training as part of the active contribution to lowering Swiss TPH’s carbon footprint. Thus, the di dactic support for teachers and facilitators and the use of new technologies for virtual teaching became particularly relevant in 2020.
42 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
The mandate to develop and coordinate the inter-faculty Graduate School Health Sciences of the University of Basel made major steps forward, with plans to open in 2021 to unite around 350 PhD students of health sciences – including over 170 from Swiss TPH – under the umbrella of four PhD programmes and a joint platform of courses and events. Swiss TPH’s lively national and international partnerships in teaching and training, includ ing with the SSPH+ network across 12 Swiss universities, has continued actively. CARTA, the South-South-North initiative for strength ening research capacities in Africa through structured PhD education, and tropEd, the Network for Education in International Health, are two of several examples. Organisational changes In August 2020, Julia Bohlius took over as Head of the Department of ET from Nino Kün zli. The transition went smoothly and the de partment structure remains unchanged with its four units. Nino Künzli will continue to co ordinate the Bachelor-Master-Doctorate unit until mid-2022. Given the upcoming retire ments of three out of the four unit heads, ET is currently preparing for further transitions within the department.
Committees & Departments
Matthias SchmidHuberty, Administrative Director (until August 2020)
Administration supports research, education and services as well as the staff at Swiss TPH with the following units: Finances and Controlling, Human Re sources, Informatics, Infrastructure and, until the end of July 2020, Project & Grant Service. In total, 63 employees work in Administration at Swiss TPH. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ad ministration units were able to quickly and effectively adapt the internal processes to the new conditions of working from home. This was mainly due to good IT infrastructure and advanced digitalisation, as programmes for handling video conferences, orders and pro cesses were already in place before the pan demic. In addition, computer monitors were made available at an early stage so that em ployees could perform their tasks from home as seamlessly as possible. All administrative services could be maintained in 2020 despite the switch to home office. In the Finance unit, an electronic archive and a workflow engine for the digital processing of invoices were implemented in 2014. Since the beginning of 2020, it has now also been pos sible to digitally trigger, check and archive all expense reports, transfers and payments. Thanks to these measures, the complete audit for the 2019 financial year was successfully carried out virtually in April 2020.
Furthermore, the first of three employee sur veys were conducted in 2020 with the aim of gaining a comprehensive picture of employee satisfaction and commitment. From this, di rect actions could be derived and implement ed to achieve the human resources strategy, thereby strengthening Swiss TPH as a com petitive employer. In two planned follow-up surveys in 2022 and 2024, the implementation of the targeted im provements as well as employee satisfaction and commitment will be reviewed. In addi tion, managers were supported in strength ening and expanding their competencies in virtual leadership. The new headquarters “Belo Horizonte” plan ning is well on track, with plans to move at the end of 2021. The upcoming move to the new headquarters in Allschwil entails various ad ditional conceptual and planning tasks for all units of Administration. The Informatics unit, for example, is working hard to prepare
Mathias Kronig, Administrative Director ad interim (as of September 2020) the move of the entire IT infrastructure. The employees of the Infrastructure unit have to be trained in new building services and have prepared the logistics for a complex move of offices, laboratories and training rooms. Promotions and organisational changes Matthias Schmid-Huberty, Administrative Director, left Swiss TPH at the end of August 2020 to pursue a new professional challenge at the Wyss Academy for Nature. The result ing gap was filled by the units in Adminis tration under the supervision of the Director, Deputy Director and Administrative Director ad interim, Mathias Kronig. The Project & Grant unit has reported to the Directorate since August 2020.
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Committees & Departments
Organigramme 2021 Board of Governors
Members from the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft, Swiss universities and the private sector
Director Jürg Utzinger
Chairman Andreas Burckhardt
Deputy Director Kaspar Wyss Department Heads Sébastien Gagneux, Daniel Paris, Julia Bohlius, Nicole Probst-Hensch, Kaspar Wyss Administrative Director Mathias Kronig (ad interim)
Administration Administration Mathias Kronig (ad interim) Finances / Controlling Mathias Kronig Human Resources Iris Haueter Informatics Alain Bertolotti Infrastructure Ursina Müller
Departments Epidemiology and Public Health
Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology
Nicole Probst-Hensch Deputy: Jakob Zinsstag
Sébastien Gagneux Deputy: Till Voss
Biostatistics Penelope Vounatsou
Clinical Immunology Claudia Daubenberger
Chronic Disease Epidemiology Nicole Probst-Hensch
Helminth Drug Development Jennifer Keiser
Disease Modelling Melissa Penny
Malaria Gene Regulation Till Voss
Ecosystem Health Sciences Guéladio Cissé
Malaria Host Interactions Nicolas Brancucci
Environmental Exposures and Health Martin Röösli
Molecular Immunology Gerd Pluschke
Health Interventions Christian Lengeler Household Economics and Health Systems Research Günther Fink Human and Animal Health Jakob Zinsstag Infectious Disease Modelling Thomas Smith Society, Gender and Health Sonja Merten Vector Biology Pie Müller 44 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Parasite Chemotherapy Pascal Mäser Tuberculosis Research Sébastien Gagneux
Committees & Departments
Communications, Sabina Beatrice-Matter Internal Audit, Vincent Bodenez Security, Safety & Health, Marco Tamborrini Project & Grant, Michael Käser
Swiss Centre for International Health
Education and Training
Daniel Paris Deputy: Christian Burri
Julia Bohlius Deputy: Axel Hoffmann
Health Systems Support Helen Prytherch
Clinical Operations Elisabeth Reus
Bachelor-Master-Doctorate Nino Künzli
Digital Health Martin Raab
Clinical Research Klaus Reither
Library and Documentation Giovanni Casagrande
Systems Performance and Monitoring Odile Pham-Tan
Diagnostics Sven Poppert
Professional Postgraduate Training Bernadette Peterhans
Medical Services Andreas Neumayr Medicines Implementation Research Christian Burri
Teaching Technology and Didactics Axel Hoffmann
Organigramme valid January 2021 All Swiss TPH staff: www.swisstph.ch/staff
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute 45
“My job is to make links: from data to health, models to reality, statistics to biology, environment to people. Swiss TPH's interdisciplinary environment provides the unique opportunity to create and tackle such a challenge.” Ayoung Jeong, Senior Scientific Collaborator at Swiss TPH
46 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
FINANCES Funding 2020
University of Basel
University of Basel
Deferred income Belo Horizonte
Deferred income Belo Horizonte
Total core funding
Total core funding
Recognition of deferred income Belo Horizonte*
Competitively acquired funds
Competitively acquired funds
Research (e.g. SNSF and EU)
Research (e.g. SNSF and EU)
Services (e.g. SDC, Global Fund and BMGF)
Services (e.g. SDC, Global Fund and BMGF)
Education and Training (e.g. Postgraduate courses)
Education and Training (e.g. Postgraduate courses)
Medical Services (e.g. Travel Medicine & Diagnostics)
Medical Services (e.g. Travel Medicine & Diagnostics)
Total competitively aquired funds
Total competitively aquired funds
Competitively acquired 67.4% Core contributions 21.7%
Competitively acquired 78.6 % Core contributions 21.4 % Medical Services
*Belo Horizonte Core funding
Education and Training
Medical Services Education and Training
CHF 91.3 Mio.
CHF 90.3 Mio. Services
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute 47
Financial statements established in accordance with Swiss GAAP FER
Income Statement Income
2020 in 1000 CHF
2019 in 1000 CHF
Core funding from national and local government
21.4 % 2.3 %
Other operating income
Recognition of deferred income building Belo Horizonte
Change in unbilled services
– 1.2 %
– 0.5 %
100 % 57.0 %
Expenditure – 49,011
Depreciation of tangible assets
1.4 % 0.4 %
Amortisation of intangible assets
Other operating expenses
Creation of investment fund Belo Horizonte
– 1 ,153
Other operating expenses Total expenditure
– 1 ,153
2020 in 1000 CHF
2019 in 1000 CHF
Balance sheet Assets Cash and cash equivalents
Prepayments and accrued income Inventories Total current assets Non-current assets Total non-current assets Total assets
Liabilities and equity Payables from goods and services Other payables Accrued liabilities and deferred income
Total current liabilities Long-term liabilities Mortgages Long-term provisions Long-term deferred income Investment Fund Belo Horizonte
Total non-current liabilities
Equity Total liabilities
48 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute 49
Partners and Funders Core Funding
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, CH
Canton Basel-Landschaft, CH
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, CH
Canton Basel-Stadt, CH State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), CH
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), CH ISGlobal, ES
University of Basel, CH
Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), DE
Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), CH
Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH), CH
EU research grants (e.g. ERC, Horizon 2020, etc.), EU
World Bank, US
National Institutes of Health (NIH), US *
World Health Organization (WHO), CH
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), CH University of Basel, CH
Private Clients Conseil Santé, FR International Development Research Centre, CA
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), US
CDC Foundation, US
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), CH
Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), US
Computer Simulation & Advanced Research Technologies, AU
Novartis Pharma AG, CH
Rotarians Against Malaria (RAM), AUS
Fondation Botnar, CH
Vital Strategies, US
Fondation Pasteur Suisse, CH Fondazione Adiuvare, CH Forlen Stiftung, CH * Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft (FAG), CH* Medical Care Development International, US Moritz Straus-Stiftung, CH Novartis Foundation, CH R. Geigy Foundation, CH Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, CH
Academic Partners Biozentrum University of Basel, CH Centre de Support en Santé Internationale (CSSI), TD* Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS), CIV École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), CH * Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, US Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, DE Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), TZ
Unitaid, CH *
Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute (Lao TPHI), LAO
Public Clients Switzerland
Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), CH
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU), DE
Amt für Ausbildungsbeiträge Basel-Stadt, CH
swissuniversities Development and Cooperation Network (SUDAC), CH*
Amt für Umwelt und Energie Basel-Stadt, CH
Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH), PE
Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS), CH
University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwest Switzerland (FHNW), CH*
Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN), CH Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), CH Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz, CH* Kantonsspital Basel-Landschaft, CH Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), CH Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology EAWAG, CH
University of Basel, Nursing Science (INS), CH University of Bern, CH University of Heidelberg, DE University of Luzern, CH University of Nebraska, US
University Hospital Basel, CH
University of Oxford, UK
Public and Public-Private Clients International
University of Zurich, CH
University of Utrecht, NL
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), DE Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), CH European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), NL Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), CH
The list shows Swiss TPH third-party funding partners making contributions of CHF 100,000 or more *Less than CHF 100,000, but strategically important
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute 51
“The COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on health, society and the economy emphasises the importance of public health. Swiss TPH’s experience in working to improve global health provides the foundation to tackle this crises in the only possible way: together.” Margarethe Wiedenmann, a doctor at Swiss TPH is featured on our cover photo this year in Basel, Switzerland.
Concept and edits: Danielle Powell Additional contributions: Sabina Beatrice-Matter, Layla Hasler, Lukas Meier, Jürg Utzinger, Department Heads Layout and design: Neeser & Müller Pictures: Olivier Brandenburg, BRCCH, DNDi, Christian Flierl, Christian Heuss, Matthis Kleeb, Messinis/Marrernet, Daniel Paris, Joachim Pelikan, Danielle Powell, Thomas Schuppisser, TIGER project and Swiss TPH staff. Cover photo: Danielle Powell Printing: Gremper AG Copyright: Swiss TPH, 2021