Since 1995, the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) has been on a mission to advance science, medicine and public health in Cambodia. In partnership with Insitut Pasteur in France, IPC has dedicated itself to biomedical research of infectious diseases within Southeast Asia through surveillance, diagnoses and the identification of vaccine resistant pathogens.
Today, IPC employs around 270 scientists, researchers, staff members and officers including Cambodians and European experts.
During a tour of IPCs laboratories, Dr Didier Fontenille, Director of Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, met with Post Plus reporter Moeun Nhean to talk about the institute’s achievements.
Since its inception, Institut Pasteur du Cambodge has strived to be the regional hub for infectious disease research. What are some of the main research projects the institute has conducted?
The Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC) has done research in the sector of public health and field research on malaria, influenza, dengue fever, tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis, rabies, and other animal-borne pathogens that can be transmitted to humans. Through molecular biology, these diseases have been studied in the laboratories of IPC; while in the villages of Cambodia these diseases have been researched through epidemical studies and clinical trials.
Could you explain to the reader the professional standards of the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge?
Our Cambodian researchers and engineers come from the major Cambodian universities such as University of Health and Science, Royal University of Agriculture, Royal University of Phnom Penh and Institut de Technologie du Cambodge (Institute of Technology of Cambodia). Most of our scientists have doctorates in medicine or pharmacology, while our engineers also hold PhDs.
What are some of the institute’s major achievements?
The major achievements of our research have been the adoption of our recommendations within the public health sector, for example on drug use policies, and by producing scientific publications in international medical journals.
Our institute also offers services to the Cambodian population in both the public and private sectors. Through a very rigorous regimen of quality control, we have conducted more than 150 tests in the fields of biology and biochemistry that look into the human immune system, parasites and blood diseases.
We also have conducted specialized tests in the field of genetics and done extensive studies on vaccinations. Additionally, at our facility we provide free anonymous testing for HIV and provide voluntary counseling.
What is the most dangerous infectious disease currently facing Cambodians?
The most dangerous infectious diseases for the people of Cambodia, and in the whole of Southeast Asia, still includes HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and dengue fever.
According to your research, which infectious diseases are still prevalent in Cambodia? And what is your advice on how to avoid contracting these diseases?
When it comes to dengue fever, we are still finding several thousand cases every year among Cambodian children. And we have found that rabies is contracted by several hundred people per year in Cambodia and of course, major diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV are still prevalent.
In the case of preventing rabies, for example, we highly recommended that everyone who is bitten by an animal should come to our vaccination center where our consultations are provided with the quality of international standards.
What are the new projects that the institute plans for the future?
IPC will continue to have a close partnership with Cambodian universities and research centers to explore infectious diseases in order to achieve better control over them. Moreover, IPC will continue to develop its water and food analysis laboratory as well as its biomedical analysis laboratory to provide the expertise needed for Cambodia’s economic development.
Since the establishment of the institute, how much money has been invested and where did the funds come from?
IPC is a non-profit organization. Funds mainly coming through funding agencies and are invested in research laboratories and human resources in Cambodia.