P³ | Nr. 5 - Autumn 2017

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Dossier: ECTMIH2017 in the spotlight Putting sleeping sickness to bed Bees: ITM’s new residents

Global health

Seye Abimbola about Trump, Tedros and ECTMIH2017

| P³ | No. 5 - Fall 2017




responsible publishe Bruno Gryseels

Dear Reader,

editor in chief Roeland Scholtalbers editorial coordination Eline Van Meervenne editorial committee Ildikó Bokros Roeland Scholtalbers Mieke Stevens Nico Van Aerde Eline Van Meervenne Marc Vandenbruaene Maria Zolfo layout & photography Stefan De Pauw cover image Alex Kess translations Serv-U and Wilkens C.S. contact communicatie@itg.be +32 (0)3 247 07 29

From 16 to 20 October 2017, ITM welcomes, together with Be-cause Health, more than 1,000 participants to the 10th edition of the European Congress of Tropical Medicine and International Health (www.ECTMIH2017.be) in the beautifully renovated Elisabeth Centre in Antwerp. Academics, experts and health professionals will share the state of the art and the latest developments in tropical medicine, disease control and public health. ITM is the organisational and scientific engine of the congress, and presents itself as a world-leading institution, now more than ever. We also invested heavily in the participation of scientists from the South, who account for a significant part of the programme. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the scientific committee and all the staff who have contributed to make this an unforgettable event. In this issue of P³, Australia-based Nigerian Seye Abimbola, editor-in-chief of BMJ Global Health, talks about the international health agenda, Donald Trump, Dr. Tedros and ECTMIH2017. You will get some interesting titbits on the rich history of the port city of Antwerp and its ZOO as a unique conference venue. Like in previous issues, this autumn edition also tells several stories about the large ITM family. I hope you will enjoy reading this issue. Don’t hesitate to share your suggestions and initiatives with the Communication Unit, which has, once again, turned it into a splendid edition. Prof. Dr. Bruno Gryseels Director

*P³ - ITM’s essence captured in one letter Our innovative and interdisciplinary research focuses on Pathogens (Department of Biomedical Sciences), Patients (Department of Clinical Sciences) and Populations (Department of Public Health). ITM researchers improve our understanding of tropical diseases, and develop better methods for their diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Others study the organisation and management of health care and disease control in regions where means are limited, but needs are huge. We also focus on the health of animals and the diseases they spread to humans.

© The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express consent of the publisher. Images in this report were taken with full understanding, participation and permission of the people portrayed. The images truthfully represent the depicted situation and are used to improve public understanding of our work.



ITM and I: Stef Heylen

verantwoordelijke uitgever Bruno Gryseels hoofdredacteur Roeland Scholtalbers redactionele coördinatie Eline Van Meervenne redactiecomité Ildikó Bokros Roeland Scholtalbers Mieke Stevens Nico Van Aerde Eline Van Meervenne Marc Vandenbruaene Maria Zolfo

Beste lezer,

Van 16 tot en met 20 oktober 2017 verwelkomt het ITG, samen met Be-cause Health, meer dan 1000 deelnemers aan het 10e European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (www.ECTMIH2017.be) in het prachtige Elisabeth Centrum. Academici, experts en gezondheidswerkers zullen er de stand van zaken en de laatste ontwikkelingen delen op het gebied van tropische geneeskunde, ziektebestrijding en volksgezondheid. Het ITG is de organisatorische én wetenschappelijke motor van het congres, en zet zich meer dan ooit in de kijker als een wereldwijd toonaangevende instelling. We investeerden ook fors in de deelname van wetenschappers uit het Zuiden, die een aanzienlijk deel van het programma invullen. Veel dank gaat naar het wetenschappelijk comité en alle medewerkers die zich ingezet hebben om er een weergaloos evenement van te maken.

Meet ITM’s new residents


Portrait: Patrick Soentjens


lay-out & fotografie Stefan De Pauw coverfoto Alex Kess

In deze aflevering van P³ geven we het woord aan de Australische Nigeriaan Seye Abimbola, hoofdredacteur van BMJ Global Health. Hij laat zijn licht schijnen over ECTMIH2017 en de internationale gezondheidsagenda, van Trump tot Tedros. Je leert ook meer over de rijke geschiedenis van havenstad Antwerpen en de ZOO, een unieke conferentielocatie. Verder staat deze najaarseditie zoals gebruikelijk vol verhalen van binnen de grote ITG-familie.

Interview: Seye Abimbola


vertalingen Serv-U en Wilkens C.S.


Putting sleeping sickness to bed


Dossier: ECTMIH2017


Conference in a room with a ZOO

contact communicatie@itg.be +32 (0)3 247 07 29

Masterchefs from Benin


Architectural gems in Antwerp


ITM number



Ik wens u veel leesplezier; aarzel niet om suggesties of initiatieven te delen met de Dienst Communicatie, die er weer eens een prachtnummer heeft van gemaakt. Prof. dr. Bruno Gryseels Directeur

*P³ - de kern van het ITG in één letter Ons innovatief en interdisciplinair onderzoek gaat uit van Pathogenen (Departement Biomedische Wetenschappen), Patiënten (Departement Klinische Wetenschappen) en Populaties (Departement Volksgezondheid). ITG-onderzoekers werken aan een beter begrip van tropische ziekten en ontwikkelen hiervoor verbeterde diagnose-, behandelings- en preventiemethoden. Anderen bestuderen de organisatie en het management van de gezondheidszorg en ziektebestrijding in regio’s waar de nood hoog is maar de middelen beperkt zijn. We focussen ook op de gezondheid van dieren en bestuderen daarbij vooral ziektes die op de mens overdraagbaar zijn.

the itm number

confirmed cases of Zika at ITM


elgian travellers have always had a weak spot for popular holiday desti­ n­ations in Latin America. In 2016, they were joined by thousands of athletes and sup­ porters attending the Summer Olympics in Rio. Unfortunately, Brazil was the country har­dest hit by the Zika virus outbreak. As early as January 2016, ITM began advising pregnant women or couples with a pregnancy wish to avoid areas where the Zika virus was ende­mic. ITM con­ firmed the first Belgian Zika case in January 2016 using an in-house developed molecular test. In the course of 2016, our clinical laboratory tested 2956 returning travellers, confirming 130 Zika cases.


In October 2017, Antwerp turns tropical! During the 10th edition of the European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (16-20 October) Antwerp is the capital of global health. This issue of PÂł is dedicated to what this extraordinary conference and the city of Antwerp have to offer.


“We are still figuring out how to deal with Trump, but global health might even benefit”

© Alex Kess

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Seye Abimbola, one of ITM’s 2010 Emerging Voices for Global Health, was appointed Editor-in-chief of BMJ Global Health in 2015. The Nigerian Australia-based public health specialist talks to P³ about his views on global health, WHO’s Dr. Tedros, Donald Trump and the ECTMIH2017 conference. Roeland Scholtalbers

Seye, why did you decide to pursue a career in global health? I grew up in a small town in Nigeria. My mother was a nurse and midwife, providing free antenatal visits and care to our community. This means that from an early age I was aware that poverty and lack of health infrastructure was linked to poor health outcomes. Also, in medical school I realised that I wasn’t keen on clinical care. And when I joined the Nigerian National Primary Health Care De­ velopment Agency after a master’s programme in Australia, I worked closely at the community level and decided that figuring out how to strengthen health system governance at the community level was my vocation. I soon turned my work on inte­ grating HIV services in primary health care into a PhD project looking at this. In medical school, I was editor of the student academic journal. I’ve often felt that I could also contribute to improving health through the power of words. In 2010, you were selected as an Emerging Voice for Global Health, an ITM initiative to train talented public health professionals who aspire to become influential global health voices. I was just finishing my master’s degree. I got se­ lected and travelled to Antwerp and Montreux to learn from Prof. Wim Van Damme and his team at ITM. It was probably the single most important event in my young career. Being an Emerging Voice changed my life in various ways. I met people who were doing similar things and created a network. The programme also empowered me and my peers

to make our voice heard and become global health leaders. I have spent quite some time at ITM since, doing research and some course work. For a while, I co-edited ITM’s International Health Policy news­ letter with Kristof Decoster. And my participation in Emerging Voices allowed me to work with col­ leagues from Afghanistan and Pakistan to publish a peer-reviewed paper on polio eradication in our home countries. Let’s talk about priorities and challenges in global health. What do you see if you look at the global arena today? Universal Health Coverage is a big buzzword. And, as Margaret Chan said, “it is the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer.” But the question is: how do we achieve it in a way that is sensitive to the circumstances in different countries? The recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika have clearly shown how we are all connected in terms of health security. Another major concern is antimicrobial resistance and the fact that weak health systems are unable to tackle it. In fact, there is often no control over the prescription of antibio­ tics in many countries due to weak health system governance. But in the global health arena, people talk in silos about these problems. Each silo has its own academic, policy and advocacy communities. There is no such thing as a global health agenda yet. If we want to change that, we must unite these con­ cerns. And then ask ourselves: what do they mean for people on the ground? I ask myself regularly, what do all these mean for a random person in my hometown in Nigeria?

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© Alex Kess

The newly installed American president quickly retracted on issues such as reproductive rights and climate change. How do Trump and his policies influence global health? The world hasn’t figured out yet how to deal with President Trump. Acquiesce or antagonise? I see anxiety about the future in light of shifting US priorities. But I see positive signs too. When Pre­ sident Trump cut funding for abortion counselling, other countries, including Belgium, stepped in. In African countries there is now more debate about the importance of raising health revenue at home. I hope that with an unpredictable US government, other countries will also start to see themselves as leaders in the global arena, I am optimistic about that. With regard to climate change, individual states and major cities in the US rushed to confirm their commitment to tackling the problem. They have made it clear that climate change is important for their people and their economies. When one level or centre of governance fails, there is a tenden­ cy for others to step in, sometimes for the better. Dr. Tedros was recently appointed as the first African Director-General of WHO. Good news? It was a good thing that there was finally an open election. Dr. Tedros was previously a Minister of Health in an African country, that was perhaps his P³ | 8

biggest selling point. He is known for his health care reforms and for working with community health workers. I hope he will bring that perspec­ tive, and the concerns of those who are working on the ground, to the crucial global health discussions. Dr. Tedros does not have an easy task though, as the WHO urgently needs to be reformed. The 2017 European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health brings a large and very diverse group of international experts to Antwerp. How can conferences like ECTMIH help to advance global health? ECTMIH2017 is important, because it offers an opportunity for experts to meet and discuss with peers in other disciplines. We need to reach out more beyond our own circles if we really want to change things. I hope the meeting in Antwerp will allow us to see the bigger picture more clearly, with its various competing challenges: equity of access to care, antimicrobial resistance, infectious disease outbreaks, non-communicable diseases. And to have these discussions whilst keeping that random person in a small town in a poor country at the centre of our considerations.

© Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp - Jonas Verhulst

ECTMIH2017: conference in “a room with a ZOO”

In need of a break between two ECTMIH sessions? Don’t worry, the adjacent ZOO offers you the opportunity to have a relaxing stroll. Go see giraffes, lions and other exotic animals and enjoy the tranquillity of this 11-acre park. The ECTMIH conference venue is part of the Antwerp ZOO. In the 19th century, a party of Antwerp city coun­ cillors visited the Amsterdam animal park Artis. They wanted the very same thing in Antwerp and managed to turn their dream into reality. In 1843 the Antwerp ZOO opened its doors. Initially it was a rather small-scale affair with a few goats and horses, but soon the park was expanded and in 1847 the first chimpanzee arrived. More and more people wanted to visit the ZOO, but entry was expensive, limiting access to the wealthy. After the First World War, entry tickets became cheaper and a wider audience found its way to the ZOO. Today, the ZOO attracts around one million visitors each year.

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During the war Antwerp was bombed during both world wars. To prevent animals from escaping during the bom­ bings and to avoid them falling into enemy hands or being killed through deprivation, the city council decided to kill the ZOO’s predators, such as lions, panthers, wolves, and poisonous snakes. During the Second World War, the ZOO was temporarily used as a military base by the British troops. After the war the British donated two elephants named Monty and Ike to express their gratitude. The ZOO was rebuilt and the new director asked the advice of scientists about animal care and housing. For the first time, steel bars were replaced with natural barriers. In 1984, the entire ZOO became a regis­ tered monument.

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More than just a ZOO Today, the ZOO is more than just an animal park. It has also become a research centre focusing on nature conservation, animal care, international breeding programmes, and last but not least, on the protection of endangered species in their natural habitat. Together with the University of Antwerp, this research centre also organises courses in pri­ matology and genetics. A brand-new conference centre, right in the city centre, with room for 2700 delegates and overlook­ ing the ZOO, was opened in 2016.

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<< rewind

Looking for architectural gems in Antwerp Nico Van Aerde

About 1500 visitors will come to Antwerp for the ECTMIH conference. The conference will take place in the beautifully renovated rooms of the Antwerp ZOO. Apart from the ZOO, other architectural gems are to be discovered in the city. Have a look at these three buildings with a rich history.

ModeNatie The ModeNatie is located at the junction of Natio­ nalestraat and Drukkerijstraat. This buil­ding with its neoclassical elements dates back to the 1890s and has been home to a men’s fashion store, a lux­ ury hotel, the Siamese consulate and the Antwerp electricity company. In the mid-sixties, the city of Antwerp bought it to accommodate the studios and offices of its sheltered workshop.

From about 1990 the building stood empty. With the creation of the Flanders Fashion Institute in 1997, it became the new ‘ModeNatie’. All unne­ cessary walls, staircases and intersections of the six­ ties were demolished and the rooms were restored to their original spacious high-ceilinged state. These days, ModeNatie houses the Fashion Mu­ seum (MoMu), the fashion academy, the Flanders Fashion Institute, a forum and conference hall, offices, a specialist bookstore and a catering faci­ lity. The ModeNatie has become the heart of the Antwerp fashion district. Address: Nationalestraat 28, 2000 Antwerp

Antwerp Central Station Antwerp Central Station was built between 1895 and 1905. The building is 75 metres high and de­ signed in eclectic style, a mixture of distinctive style elements from earlier periods. The Pantheon in Rome was an inspiration, as were other European monuments. The steel platform roof is 43 meters high, 186 metres long and 66 metres wide and originally covered ten tracks.

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<< rewind

In the middle of the twentieth century the building had fallen into disrepair. Fortunately, in 1975 the station became a registered monument. In 1985, the Belgian railway company wanted to close the station because the roof needed restoring. Repairs were eventually undertaken in 1986 and lasted until 1998 when a major renovation programme was initiated. The station was expanded with two new underground levels and a tunnel which crosses the city. In 2007, the renovated building was officially opened. It is generally considered as one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world.

In 2001 Erfgoed Vlaanderen began restoring the facades, the roof and the interior. The damaged wall coverings were repaired and cleaned and the ceiling decorations were regilded. Some of the fur­ niture, which had been moved to the royal palace in Brussels, was returned to its original destination.

Address: Koningin Astridplein 27, 2018 Antwerp

Address: Meir 50, 2000 Antwerp

Today, the palace is used for musical events but you can still visit the halls and salons and admire its furniture and decorations. The ‘Mirror Room’ is used for dinners, receptions, presentations or fashion shows.

The former Royal Palace on the Meir In the middle of the 18th century, merchant Alexan­ der van Susteren built himself a lush rococo palace with a touch of late baroque elements on the corner of Meir and Wapper. It subsequently became the home of various other aristocratic and even royal families. Among its occupants we find Emperor Napoleon, King Willem I of the Netherlands and the Belgian royal family. In 1969 the Ministry of Culture acquired ownership of the palace and its valuables. 13 | P³

itm story

Putting sleeping sickness to bed

Š Juan Carlos Tomasi

Sleeping sickness can be compared to a sniper lying in wait to take a shot. The disease affects poor communities such as those in the brousse of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Together with Congolese and international partners, Prof. Marleen Boelaert and her team are waging a decisive battle against this deadly tropical disease. PÂł | 14

itm story

Roeland Scholtalbers

Sleeping sickness is caused by a single cell pa­ Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo, rasite that is transmitted by tsetse flies. The first and Bill Gates will be committing 50 million euro symptoms can take years to present themselves to the eradication of sleeping sickness over the and include fever, headaches and joint pains. Once next nine years. When presenting the initiative in the parasite invades the central April 2017, Bill Gates praised nervous system and reaches the the ITM saying: “The Institute brain, its victims suffer con­ has been doing an excellent fusion, have trouble sleeping job for a long time [...] It has and eventually fall into a coma. found the right way to reach Bel­gium and ITM have since even the most remote places.” long made important inroads In recent years, ITM, with the into reducing sleeping sickness support of the Bill & Melinda through control activities and Gates Foundation, has tested an research. By the end of the co-­ innovative approach through a lonial period, the disease had research programme to control almost disappeared, but crept sleeping sickness. “It is based Bill Gates on the Institute of Tropical Medicine back after the Congolese inde­ on improved medication, rapid pendence in 1960. The tide is diagnostic testing, smaller and slowly turning, however, and more effective fly traps, digital the illness has been greatly cur­tailed in recent years. data processing and more efficient population re­ More than 85% of new cases reported worldwide search,” says Prof. Boelaert, “We think that through occur in Congo. Last year, fewer than 2000 cases this novel approach and together with our Congo­ were confirmed, although the actual number may lese and international partners, we can deal a final be higher. blow to this disease.”

“The Institute has been doing an excellent job for a long time [...] It has found the right way to reach even the most remote places.”

Sleeping sickness is a particularly complex di­sease. It is no sinecure to trace new cases in Congo’s most remote areas. Not all regions of this immense country keep reliable statistics. Furthermore, to get a convincing diagnosis is a complicated and time-consuming task but crucial to prevent healthy individuals from being treated with syringes, which can have toxic side effects. Prof. Marleen Boelaert, a world expert on neglected diseases, and her team have recently launched a new project to consign sleeping sickness to the dustbin of history by 2025. As a reference, smallpox is the only disease that has been successfully eradica­ted, 37 years ago. However, there are several reasons for optimism, which is why the Belgian Minister for

More than 40 years ago, ITM developed the CATT test, the world’s most widely used sleeping sickness test. The Institute produced tens of millions of these over the years and shipped them all over Africa. However, the CATT test does not work without refrigerated reagents and a small mechanical de­ vice, which means that field workers need a terrain vehicle equipped with a fridge and batteries. In 2014, the team of Prof. Philippe Büscher at ITM and Coris Bioconcept developed a rapid test resembling a pregnancy test. On the basis of a drop of blood, it provides a diagnosis within 15 minutes. “The rapid test can also be carried out by less specialised staff and is much easier to take to remote villages,” says Prof. Boelaert.

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itm story

Meeting with the sleeping sickness team in Antwerp

Furthermore, it is easier to combat the tsetse fly with smaller ‘tiny targets’ that attract and kill the flies. Detection of new cases within the community is more efficient through electronic data recording. “A combination of these digitised data and satellite data relative to the natural environment makes it possible to target and detect more sources of infec­ tion,” says Prof. Boelaert. In addition, the set-up of smaller and more flexible mobile screening teams makes it easier to identify new cases. New pills complete this approach, ensuring a safer and easier treatment compared to treatment with injections.

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For the implementation of this ambitious project, ITM can count on the support of the Congolese Ministry of Health, the national sleeping sickness control programme and a series of internatio­nal partner organisations. The Belgian Technical Coop­ eration and Memisa are ITM’s key Belgian partners in the fight against this disease.

photo story

Meet the new ITM residents

THE BEES This spring, a bee colony took up lodging in ITM’s garden. The bee population is in decline worldwide which is worrying because bees are the main pollinators of wild plants and numer­ ous agricultural and horticultural crops. ITM employees Ludwig Apers, Jan Van Den Abbeele and Bouke De Jong took matters into their own hands and installed a hive in ITM’s courtyard garden. So far, a few hundred bees occupy the hive, which can easily accommodate 30,000 to 40,000 insects. Eline Van Meervenne

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photo story Bees need to constantly satisfy their need for nectar and their foraging distance amounts to about three kilometres. The ITM gardens offer a diversity of fauna and flora where they can find what they need. Facility Management is looking for ways to make the garden even more bee-friendly. In May 2017, the first ITM honey was harvested and by the end of June the bees had produced about 20 kilograms. Not bad at all for the first year and living proof that bees are well-fed at ITM. The honey was sold to ITM staff and the proceeds went to Oxfam by sponsoring the team of Anne-Sophie Heroes and Natacha Herssens who participated in the Oxfam Trail Walker. Also in May, the ITM bees swarmed, meaning that part of the colony decided they needed a new queen. The old queen left the hive and installed herself, together with the remaining part of the colony, on a branch of a nearby tree in the ITM garden. A spectacular and unique natural phenomenon. The beekeepers moved the swarm to a hive in Heist-Op-Den-Berg while the original ‘old’ hive now houses a young queen. The next few days were exciting. The beekeepers had to wait and wonder whether the new queen would get fertilised and if so, by which drone. Within a few weeks that happened. The bees continued to work hard and collected more and more pollen, which is the basic food for the larvae. It is also a clear sign that the queen is laying and producing eggs. When the bee­ keepers opened the hive, they found several frames with ‘open’ and ‘closed’ bree­ding cells, proof that the queen had begun her task: laying 2000 eggs a day. This means that the colony is in good shape. All that remains for the beekee­pers is to prepare the colony for the winter sleep, so everyone can enjoy these non-ordinary resi­ dents again next summer.

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photo story

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Patrick Soentjens

the double life of a head physician Hilde Goyens

In April 2017, Patrick Soentjens was appointed the new physician-inchief at ITM. He already headed the travel clinic and is chairman of the Belgian Scientific Study Group on Travel Medicine since the retirement of Dr. Fons van Gompel in 2016. Soentjens is also the senior consultant of infectious diseases for the Belgian army and carries out ground-breaking research into rabies. He talked to P³ about his ‘double life’ at the Institute and in the army and how he turned his hobby into his profession.


orn in Germany and with a father in the army, Patrick got acquainted with the mili­ tary at an early age. Consequently, the Royal Military Academy in Brussels was a logical choice when he took up his medical studies. While study­ ing infectious diseases, Soentjens worked for a year and a half in Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa. When he graduated in internal medicine, in early 2006, and was still under contract with the army, he began working as a volunteer consultant at ITM. Very soon, however, Patrick got landed with the consultations of other colleagues, who were starting a PhD, taking temporary leave or just leaving. He built up a broad expertise through

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his HIV, STD, travel medicine and tropical disea­ ses consultations: “Rabies is my ‘pet subject’. It’s a disease which I believe has a more serious impact than Zika or Ebola.” Rabies is always fatal and claims about 50,000 to 70,000 lives each year, even though a vaccine of­ fering full protection has been available for several decades. Soentjens’ rabies story started in 2008 in the Ministry of Defence. The army only vaccinates intradermally with microdoses (1/5 dose) while for ‘civilians’ full doses are being used. Between 2011 and 2016 a first clinical trial with a cohort of 500 people was launched in collaboration with ITM.

portrait It shortened the 28-day pre-vaccination schedule to 7 days. In a second study, started in 2014, one single day of pre-vaccination with two vaccina­ tions was tested. We already know now that both trials will affect future WHO policy guidelines. A third trial will start this autumn and will examine the positive effect of a genital warts ointment on intradermal vaccines. Finally, Soentjens would like to test the new vacci­ nation schemes in Africa where rabies is claiming many victims, especially young children. Thanks to its extensive expertise, ITM became the Belgian Rabies Expertise Centre in 2017. It is the only centre in Belgium authorised to admi­nister free immuno­ globulins after possible ex­ posure to the rabies virus, also called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Soentjens, a paratrooper, is a sports enthusiast, just like his wife and three children. His love for sport dates from childhood, when he competed and won prizes in various league sports. In May 2017, he and several ITM colleagues participated in the KlimClassic, a cycling tour through Voeren and the Ardennes. Last month, he and his 10-year old son cycled up Mont Ventoux.

Soentjens feels that his var­ ious jobs, at ITM and in the army, are not at odds with one ano­ther. “It’s all about keeping a good overview, being able to delegate and rely on a good team, which is luckily the case in both institutions. There are many possible synergies. I am also a great fan of an efficient and dynamic HR policy.” As head physician and head of the travel When asked what he is most proud of, he does not clinic he has exciting plans: “I would like to exploit hesitate: “On 6 January 2004, I put the first patient our clinic’s full potential and prepare it for the next on free antiretroviral treatment in South Africa. decades. Our international reputation in pre- and Currently, more than five million people are on post-travel consultations and our wide-ranging this medication in that country. This life-saving reference tasks allow us to play a key national and therapy really makes a difference,” says Soentjens. international role. There are also opportunities to “An added bonus was that a month earlier I got to extend education and research in the clinic.” shake Nelson Mandela ‘s hand,” he adds smilingly.

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the list

Masterchefs from Benin Eline Van Meervenne

Fish, herbs and vegetables lie in wait in Christelle and Bello’s kitchen. Both ladies have recently graduated from ITM’s Master of Public Health programme. They are busy preparing a ‘sauce de gombo’, a typical West African delicacy. “This is a dish which you can not only enjoy on Sundays or festive occasions but also on weekdays. There are rich and sober versions,” says Christelle. Sauce de gombo is a kind of okra and fish soup accompanied by rice or manioc-based pasta. “I love cooking,” Christelle continues, “During my year in Antwerp, I regularly visited the African market. It made me feel as though I was back home.” Christelle and Bello are from Benin. They studied at ITM and have lived in Antwerp for a year. “A unique experience,” says Bello,“I worked as head physician in four health centres but after my Master of Public Health at ITM, I feel confident enough to take up a post at our Ministry of Public Health.”

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“Tonight, we are one step closer to home,” says Christelle, “thanks to my favourite dish: sauce de gombo.” You can prepare it with either fish or meat. The cooked okra seeds give the sauce its thick and sticky texture, which is quite unusual in Western cuisine. “I have opted for the rich version, by adding crab, mackerel and prawns,” says Christelle. “In Benin, we often cook the mackerel in tomato sauce.”

Sauce de gombo Ingredients – serves 6: • 500 g okra • 4 large crabs • 500 g prawns • Freshly ground ginger and garlic • Half a big onion, coarsely chopped • ½ cube of vegetable stock • Pinch of baking soda • ½ teaspoon of dried red chili • Glass of water • If available, one tablespoon of red oil, to be added after cooking.

Preparation: • Chop the okra into slices of about 1 cm, peel the prawns and clean the crabs. • Put the sliced okra in a pan, add a glass of water and a pinch of baking soda. • Add the crab and the prawns. • Cook for about 10 minutes. • Stir and add the ginger, garlic, vegetable stock, chili, onion and salt. • Let simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes. The dish is served with mackerel, cooked in a simple tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce with fish Ingredients – serves 6: • Spices/herbs of your choice • Freshly milled pepper and salt • 1 tablespoon of ground prawns • Fresh mackerel • 1 tablespoon oil • 1 glass water

Preparation: • Clean the fish and marinate it as you like. • Mix the tomatoes and the onions in a blender. • Let simmer for about 10 minutes. • Add the prawns, the oil and the spices. • Add a glass of water. • Cook for about 5 more minutes. • Add the mackerel. • Cook for another 5 minutes and serve. ENJOY!

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itm and i

Stef Heylen

Stef Heylen became CEO of Janssen Pharmaceutica in November 2016. Although he can look back on an impressive career in the pharmaceutical sector, his roots are at ITM. In 1983, he became a student at the Institute, immersing himself in tropical medicine and international health. For ‘ITM & I’ he looks back on his time at ITM and explains how this shaped his career. When I graduated from medical school, I had no wish to become a general practioner. My wife and I dreamed of working abroad for a while. I en­ rolled in the tropical medicine and international health postgraduate course at ITM to obtain the required knowledge and skills. From large audi­ toria with hundreds of students I landed among a group of young doctors with shared dreams and ambitions of working in a developing country. The professors who taught us had a mass of experience and un­bridled knowledge of work in the field. For six months, I soaked up this hugely stimulating environment.

life of millions of people worldwide gives us a lot of satisfaction.

ITM strongly encouraged my interest in interna­ tional health and during my career I could build on the knowledge acquired there. Even today, my activities still evolve around these themes through Janssen Pharmaceutica’s Global Public Health pro­ gramme, a great motivator for myself and my staff. The positive impact on the health and quality of

I am looking forward to broadening Janssen Phar­ maceutica in Beerse into a European innovation hub. Our campus covers all aspects of the value chain, from research and development to produc­ tion, distribution and support services, a unique asset we would like to further expand.

From the very beginning, the pharmaceutical sec­ tor fascinated me because you find yourself at the forefront of major developments in medicine. I have been working in the pharmaceutical industry for thirty years now and have seen a lot of scientific progress. At Janssen Pharmaceutica we also try to encourage breakthroughs in the field of infectious diseases and put our expertise at the disposal of research projects financed through external funds such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

25 | P³

Calendar 16-20


10th European Congress on Tropical Medicine & International Health



Flemish Science Day

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