Host institution: Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland

Project title: A community-based participatory intervention to control urban Aedes arbovirus vectors in Côte d’Ivoire

Dr Zahouli is an Assistant Professor and the Study Director for Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) for the vector control programme at the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS) in Côte d’Ivoire. He completed his PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Basel in Switzerland on the topic “Anthropogenic impacts on Aedes mosquito community dynamics in Côte d’Ivoire”. His main research interests include the control of Aedes mosquito-borne arboviruses and other vector-borne diseases, including malaria and lymphatic filariasis.

Dr Zahouli is developing a ‘community-based participatory intervention approach’ to control urban Aedes arbovirus vectors in Côte d’Ivoire. In common with most African countries, Côte d’Ivoire is endemic for Aedes mosquito-borne arboviruses (e.g. yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, Zika), with a significant threat and incidence in major capital cities.

However, says Dr Zahouli “Aedes research and control are restricted by limited budgets, resources and capacities. Standalone (‘vertical’) vector control interventions led by national arbovirus control programmes separate from other health systems can have limited impact. One result is that the target disease returns once the programme is over.  There is therefore a pressing need to develop an innovative, community-centered model to reduce the source of the mosquitos. This integrated, ‘horizontal’ approach has huge potential for short and long-term reduction of mosquito bites and arboviral infection incidence, and for saving human lives and resources in Côte d’Ivoire and Africa.”

AREF Fellowship research project:

Dr Zahouli will use his AREF Fellowship as a springboard towards developing advanced expertise on Aedes arbovirus vector control. His placement with Dr Pie Müller at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in Switzerland will enable him to learn epidemiological methods, study design and biostatistics for designing community-led interventions, implementing trials and evaluating their impacts. On returning to his home institution, Dr Zahouli will share expertise gained with his peers.

“Importantly, my Fellowship will enable me to build up preliminary data to inform future research projects for funding”.